Speaking after the Dave Roberts introductory press conference on Tuesday, Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he expects Major League Baseball’s investigation into Yasiel Puig’s involvement in a fight with a bouncer at a Miami bar will conclude next week.
Friedman said he’s spoken with Puig’s representatives, but not directly with Puig since the incident. That should occur “at some point once this resolves” Friedman added.
Already surrounded by trade rumors, the reported scuffle added more fuel to the fire for Puig to be moved.
Roughly one week prior to the fight taking place, it was said Dodgers ownership is more open to trading Puig than they have been in previous years.
However, Friedman remains confident the enigmatic outfielder can be of tremendous value to the team. “I think Yasiel Puig can be a significant part of future success for the Los Angeles Dodgers,” he said.
“There are things that happened to during the course of this year mechanically and health-wise that we really didn’t get to see that as much in 2015. But, look at him from a scouting standpoint, from the physical ability and what he can do on a baseball field. Everyone in this organization appreciates what that can mean.”
Hamstring injuries limited Puig to a career-low 79 games last season. He hit .255/.322/.436 with 11 home runs, 12 doubles and 38 RBIs. Puig finished the year with a .328 woBA, 111 wRC+ and 66 strikeouts to 26 walks in 311 plate appearances.
Talented as he may be, there have been concerns over Puig’s presence in the clubhouse and rumored tendency to sidestep team rules in favor of his own.
“I think having a really strong clubhouse culture is important. It’s not going to be that everyone is going to be best friends, but there needs to be a certain level of respect and desire to win,” Friedman said.
Andy Van Slyke, father of Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke, stirred the pot when he implied Clayton Kershaw asked the Dodgers to trade Puig. Friedman said he and Kershaw never had a conversation of that nature.
“I thought Clayton’s comments were perfect after the fact when he said, ‘We have the best chance to win the most games with a healthy Yasiel Puig in our lineup,'” Friedman said.
“I think there’s things that happen over the course of eight months of guys being together all the time that come up. If people are coming at it from the purist of intentions and the standpoint of getting better and to help the team win, then everything works itself out. Like every team, we’re still working to put that foundation in place.”
Friedman added the front office takes into account off-the-field matters when evaluating players and making roster decisions. He believes Roberts’ innate ability to connect with people will suit the organization well moving forward.
Roberts said on Tuesday he’d already met with 15-16 players, plans to meet with Kershaw on Sunday, and hopes to do the same with Puig at some point in the near future.
Adrian Gonzalez opined Puig responds well to those who hold genuine intentions. For that reason, Gonzalez is confident Roberts will succeed in developing a relationship with Puig.