The Los Angeles Dodgers drew plenty of criticism when they signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract in June 2012. Little was known of the then-21-year-old Cuban native, making the Dodgers’ lavish spending all the more perplexing.
Puig had a stellar showing with the Arizona League Dodgers and High-A Rancho Cucamonga, and rode that into a strong showing in his first Spring Training. He began the 2013 season in Double-A but was called up in June as injuries depleted the Dodgers’ outfield depth.
The dynamic talent took the Majors by storm, breathing life into a Dodgers team that was playing well below expectations. The seven-year contract suddenly appeared to be a steal.
However, Puig has struggled to recapture his rookie form as pitchers adjusted and hamstring injuries became a recurring issue.
This offseason the 25-year-old had the option for early arbitration due to accruing the necessary Major League service time.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Puig decided against that route and will play out the remaining two years on his contract:
Yasiel Puig declines to opt into arbitration, keeps salaries of $6.5M and 7.5M for next two years.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) November 15, 2016
Much like Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner rejecting the qualifying offers, Puig’s decision was a predictable one. Considering he’s coming off an average 2016 season, arbitration was unlikely to result in an increase in salary for 2017.
In 331 games over parts of three seasons with the Dodgers, the 25-year-old is a lifetime .277/.352/.451 hitter, with 63 doubles, 14 triples, 38 home runs, 152 RBI and a 124 OPS+. There’s some belief the Dodgers may finally decide to trade Puig this winter.
Though, general manager Farhan Zaidi recently gave the mercurial outfielder a vote of confidence and credited Puig for re-establishing himself with the team after his demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Dodgers currently have eight players who are eligible for salary arbitration. The number could change based on acquisitions or players who may be non-tendered.