Giants: Pros and cons of signing former rival Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent and the San Francisco Giants are still in the market for a corner outfielder. Is there a match? It is complicated.

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Giants target Yasiel Puig. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The San Francisco Giants have not been connected to Yasiel Puig yet this offseason.

However, he does appear to be a fit on paper.

The lack of a rumors connecting him to the Giants has certainly not stopped various figures surrounding the organization from discussing the idea:

As currently constructed, the Giants have Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson penciled in as two of the three starters in the outfield. Both bat from the left side, and the Giants could achieve a little more balance by adding a right-handed bat.

In addition to Yastrzemski and Dickerson, the Giants plan to give at-bats to several outfielders, including Steven Duggar, Jaylin Davis, and Austin Slater.

Similarly, San Francisco has brought in both Joey Rickard and Jamie Westbrook on minor league contracts with camp invites.

Rickard finished the year with the Orange and Black where he posted a .713 OPS across 54 at-bats. In his short time, he proved adept at hitting left-handed pitching and roaming the expansive Oracle Park confines.

With all this being said, none of the names mentioned above have a proven track record. The 2020 season could be one in which the Giants really test out their organizational inventor by giving Slater, Duggar, and Davis all substantial playing time.

However, if the Giants plan to be competitive in the near future, they will need to start making moves that improve the roster. And, the longer Puig stays a free agent, the more likely his prospective market shrinks, thereby reducing the leverage he has with teams.

If that's how things play out, it could be an opportunistic move by Giants team president Farhan Zaidi to at least kick the tires on Puig.

In the meantime, let's take a look at what Puig brings to the table with a rundown of the pros and cons of adding him to the roster.

The Pros

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Yasiel Puig

On the field, Yasiel Puig offers decent overall value with both the bat and the glove.

As has already been mentioned, Puig bats from the right side, which adds a little more balance to an outfield contingent that includes left-handed bats in both Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson.

As the Giants have seen over the years, Puig's calling card is his bat. Across 3,376 plate appearances, the long-time Giants nemesis has posted a .277/.348/.475 line (122 OPS+) with 132 home runs.

However, the bat has taken a step back in recent seasons. In his rookie and sophomore seasons, Puig posted a combined 151 OPS+.

By producing at that level, it seemed like Puig was going to be a thorn in the Giants side for a long time. He was still a thorn, but the size of that thorn shrunk as his career progressed.

In the past three seasons, Puig has worn a Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, and Cleveland Indians uniform. The frequent flyer miles are beginning to pile up. In that same time span, he has posted a .265/.334/478 line (112 OPS+). Clearly, this is not the same level of success Puig enjoyed earlier in his career.

That decline in production could be part of the reason why the outfielder remains on the free-agent market. Nevertheless, the level of production he has realized in recent seasons is still much better than just about every Giants outfielder on the 40-man roster.

Plus, as he goes into his age-29 season, there is still hope that he could regain some of his early career success.

In addition to this, Puig has proven to be solid with the glove. He may not be able to handle center field at this stage in his career, but he is significantly above-average with the glove as a right fielder.

Throughout his career, Puig has generated 41 DRS and 2.8 UZR while displaying a solid arm in right field. Oddly, he has only appeared in seven games in left field. With that being said, he would likely be able to handle left field at Oracle Park since it has very little nuance to it.

Lastly, at this stage in the offseason, Puig is not likely to receive a lucrative contract. In November, MLB Trade Rumors predicted that he would receive a one-year, $8 million dollar contract. Most of the players have exceeded the expectations from these predictions, and it is possible Puig is no different.

Still, he will likely not command much more than the $8 million average annual value that the site predicted. Perhaps, the larger miss in that prediction is that he is poised to score a multi-year deal.

Teams have less flexibility this late in the offseason as they begin to finalize their roster and payroll.

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The Cons

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Yasiel Puig. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

Yasiel Puig comes with his fair share of baggage as well. He is a very polarizing personality.

Despite solid production at the plate and with the glove, some of it is negated by his on-field antics, whether it be failing to tag up on a fly ball, getting picked off, running through a stop sign on the bases, or arriving late to the game.

These issues bleed into team chemistry as he has been known as a clubhouse cancer in the past. In fact, Puig has a long history of disrupting the clubhouse. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote about an incident between Puig and then-teammate Zack Greinke:

In 2014, during the Dodgers’ annual trip to Chicago, the team bus stopped downtown to allow rookies undergoing hazing to walk into a pizza place…When the bus was ready to leave, Puig was outside, looking for his luggage inside of the bay underneath the bus. After Puig ignored multiple requests to close the luggage bay, Greinke hopped off the bus, grabbed the suitcase in front of Puig and chucked it onto Michigan Avenue. Puig stepped toward Greinke and was restrained by reliever J.P. Howell

Puig's personality may have eventually led to Zack Greinke leaving the Dodgers via free agency.

In addition to this, the 29-year-old was rumored to have gotten into a heated argument with teammate Justin Turner as well.

According to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report, an anonymous former Dodger did not mince words when describing Puig:

"He is the worst person I've ever seen in this game."

Now, anonymous sources are not always reliable, but it adds to the picture that has been painted of Puig's character.

The Giants front office is more analytically driven than ever before. The right fielder produces on the field, but the front office needs to weigh whether Puig's impact on clubhouse chemistry compromises his on-field production. There is not necessarily a metric for this.

With all that being said, many of these stories are several years old, and there have been fewer incidents surrounding Puig in recent seasons. Does this show maturity and growth? It is possible.

On a different, but still related note, Puig is not very well-liked by much of the Giants fan base. He has often been the center of controversy in Giants-Dodgers games:

This is just one instance. Perhaps, the departure of Madison Bumgarner opens the door ever-so-slightly for Puig to don a Giants uniform. Over the years, Puig and Bumgarner frequently expressed their displeasure for one another.

Despite how the fan base views Puig, it seems apparent that Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office will not crowd source their decisions based on popular opinion. The hiring of Gabe Kapler as the manager, and parting ways with Kevin Pillar are just two recent examples of this.

Puig checks off a number of boxes for the Giants. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if the Giants are willing to commit to the outfielder. On the field, he offers plenty of overall value.

Despite this, he makes quite a few mistakes and could potentially hurt clubhouse chemistry while further alienating the fan base. These factors cannot be easily quantified, but they would have to be considered.

Next: Bargain starting pitchers the Giants should sign immediately

Adding Puig would improve the roster in 2020 without significantly limiting the team's long-term strategy. However, it would come at an emotional cost that would be difficult for many Giants fans to swallow.