Free agency in Major League Baseball opened way back in the beginning of November. At that point, nobody would have expected outfielder Yasiel Puig to remain without a job into April, but here we are. It’s going to stay that way for at least a little while longer, too, after MLB put a stop to transactions last week in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s hard to believe it has come to this for Puig, who has enjoyed an impressive career overall and who entered the offseason as MLBTR’s 37th-ranked free agent. We predicted Puig would land a one-year, $8MM contract, and he reportedly rejected a $10MM offer at some point during the winter, but it’s now difficult to envision him matching or eclipsing either figure on his next contract.
Why is Puig still a man without a team? Well, he didn’t do himself any favors with a middling 2019 performance divided between the Reds and Indians. Puig, a high-profile, oft-electrifying Dodger from 2013-18, entered Cincinnati as a .279/.353/.478 hitter (good for a 129 wRC+) with 108 home runs, 60 stolen bases and 19.7 fWAR in 2,765 plate appearances. Despite his generally above-average numbers, the Dodgers grew weary of the mercurial Puig even before they traded him, as they optioned him to the minors and placed him on revocable trade waivers during the 2016 season. That was one of the least productive seasons Puig has ever had, but he at least bounced back on offense from 2017-18.