Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was plenty optimistic over Yasiel Puig heading into the 2016 season. Friedman went so far as to call the 25-year-old outfielder one of the team’s wild cards.
Although Puig was coming off a down season and at one point was the subject of a domestic violence investigation conducted by Major League Baseball — albeit one that was more smoke than substance — the enigmatic talent drew interest from other clubs.
The Dodgers resisted against trading Puig, electing to instead focus on drawing the best they could out of him, which figured to be boosted by new manager Dave Roberts.
Puig by all accounts responded well to the new coaching staff. But some of his focus appeared to wane as the season went progressed.
As a result, the Dodgers optioned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City after failed attempts to trade Puig at the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline. The demotion was said to be related to off-the-field issues.
Puig didn’t aid matters when he posted a series of videos to Snapchat, depicting the group drinking and signing along with loud music on a party bus.
Friedman issued a statement in which he said he was disappointed by the players’ behavior on the videos. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he was surprised by the incident.
While the general perception is Puig has been banished to Oklahoma City, he was recently visited by Friedman, who came away encouraged, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
Friedman said he spoke with Puig and characterized those conversations only as “very good.” He praised Puig for the work he has put in since joining the OKC Dodgers.
“He has obviously performed extremely well,” Friedman said Thursday. “What’s more impressive is the work he has been doing on his swing, making adjustments. That process has been fun to watch. All the reports from our staff there have been incredibly positive. Witnessing him the past few days has been great because I think a lot of internal conversations we’ve had with him have really resonated.”
Puig is hitting a blistering .441/.513/.824 with two doubles, one triple, three home runs and 11 RBIs over nine games with Oklahoma City. He also has five walks to just one strikeout in 39 plate appearances.
While the Snapchat story drew plenty of negative attention, Oklahoma City rattled off six consecutive victories, with their winning streak ending Tuesday. What the future holds for Puig is unknown.
The Dodgers could place him on waivers and potentially pursue a trade, or recall Puig for their final postseason push. Josh Reddick, now the club’s everyday right fielder, has been significantly affected at the plate by bad luck since being traded to the Dodgers.