While there was hope Yasiel Puig would rebound from a subpar 2015 season, this year saw much of the same inconsistency from the mercurial outfielder. The optimism stemmed from Puig meeting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ offseason request that he lose weight.
He reported to Spring Training with a trimmed-down figure and renewed work ethic. Early returns in the regular season were encouraging. But Puig eventually fell victim to old habits, and suffered a hamstring injury in June that required a stint on the disabled list.
The 25-year-old remained with the club one month after coming off the DL, and was the subject of speculation in the week leading up to the non-waiver deadline.
Puig’s name has again surfaced in trade rumors, though Dodgers manager Dave Roberts doesn’t anticipate he’ll be moved, per Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
Roberts also said he’s expecting Puig to be a Dodger next season, despite the widely held assumption that the Dodgers could trade him to clear their outfield logjam.
Unable to deal Puig in August, the Dodgers demoted him to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Puig returned one month later and backed up his claim to have improved as a teammate. He finished the season batting .263/.323/.416 with 14 doubles, 11 home runs, 45 RBI and a 101 OPS+ in 104 games.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said last month the club had a positive feeling over the dynamic talent. Even when Puig was reportedly being dangled in trade talks last winter, Los Angeles maintained public confidence in him.
The Chicago White Sox are believed to have longstanding interest in acquiring Puig. However, he presumably is penciled in as the Dodgers starting right fielder, considering Josh Reddick signed with the Houston Astros.
The Dodgers do have a bevy of outfielders on their roster, though there are question marks surrounding some of the depth.
Andre Ethier essentially lost an entire season while recovering from a tibia fracture, Kiké Hernandez struggled mightily this season, Trayce Thompson never played after July 10 due to multiple fractures in his back, and Scott Van Slyke is coming off wrist surgery.
Puig, who predictably decided against opting into early salary arbitration this winter, is owed $13 million over the next two seasons.