SF Giants rumors: Yasiel Puig could be fun in the outfield
By Kurt Mensching
Back when our minds might have been elsewhere, the San Francisco Giants were rumored to be interested in former All-Star Yasiel Puig.
And hey, with transactions frozen for the foreseeable future, at least the Giants don’t have to worry much about competition while they think about it.
On the March 11 episode of Big Time Baseball Podcast, reporter Jon Heyman noted that Marlins and Giants were thought to be suitors of Puig this offseason (hat-tip MLB Trade Rumors). The fact that Puig reportedly turned down a $10 million offer from an unnamed National League team, per LA Times reporter Bill Shaikin earlier in March, only adds to the intrigue.
Puig, now age 29, isn’t coming off his best year, but there’s certainly reason to believe he can contribute. With his 2019 season split between the Reds and Indians, he hit a combined .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI.
That put his value about 1.4 WAR, per Baseball Reference. That’s not bad, but not great.
Yet, as Puig spent several years with the Dodgers at the same time as SF’s current Director of Baseball Ops, Farhan Zaidi, you can see why this move could actually happen.
Yasiel Puig asking for a lot this offseason, should SF Giants pay?
If he already turned down $10 million, it’s possible Puig is overestimating his value, which would certainly explain why he entered spring training without a team and still hadn’t signed by the time MLB made the decision to shut down spring training and indefinitely delay the start of the season.
Puig entered the offseason as MLBTR’s 37th ranked free agent. They guessed he would sign a one year deal worth $8 million.
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Connor Byrne of MLBTR noted that Puig’s value might have decreased because the right-handed batter went to the opposite field more often in 2019 than he had earlier in his career. Byrne also noted that Puig’s defense took a step back as well.
Puig spent most of his career in the positives in the Defensive Runs Saved statistic, rating as high as 14 runs above average in 2017. That started to fall in 2018 and bottomed out at 0 DRS last season, including a negative showing in Cleveland.
That would explain the overall drop in WAR from his earlier year, too.
So would the Giants want him?
They signed popular outfielder Hunter Pence to a $3 million deal in February, with an additional $2.25 million in incentives possible. Given the right-handed hitting Pence’s position is in a corner as well, that would tend to throw water on the Puig rumors.
Assuming left-handed hitter Mike Yastrzemski starts in center field, Puig at his best could be an improvement and add more flexibility than lefty Alex Dickerson, or at least be a more sure thing.
If Puig sticks to a request of $10 million or more, that’s probably not a bet the Giants are going to take, especially given the youth movement.
But you have to admit, it’s at least a little fun to think about.