Roughly two weeks prior to the regular season concluding Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig expressed an interest in playing Winter ball in the Dominican Republic. In order to do so Puig would need to gain approval from Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
Friedman didn’t rule out the possibility, but at the time with a postseason run still left to be played, he didn’t see it fit to make a decision. While it remains to be seen if Puig will be granted permission, he more recently expressed an interest in playing for Team Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
“I want to play center field for Mexico,” Puig said during an appearance on “MLB Tonight.”
“It’s the reason I’m here right now,” Puig said of Mexico’s importance to him. “I signed in Mexico with the Dodgers and now I’m here and now I’d like to give the favor back and play with Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.”
Puig acknowledged a willingness and desire to play for his native Cuba, but the country will not permit Major League players or anyone who has defected to represent them in the 2017 tournament.
In a good-natured fashion Puig interrupted an J.P. Morosi’s interview with Team Mexico manager Edgar Gonzalez. Edgar is the older brother of Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
“If we’re able to get permission and get all the paperwork squared away, I would love to have him in the outfield with us,” Edgar said.
Puig obtained a Mexican passport when he established residency in the country after defecting from Cuba. He signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Dodgers in June 2012.
It’s plausible he’d be joined on the Mexican national team by Dodgers teammates Adrian Gonzalez and Julio Urias. Gonzalez left the Dodgers for a brief period during Spring Training to join the Mexican national in the WBC qualifier.
Mexico begins the 2017 WBC in Guadalajara on March 9. Dodger Stadium will host the WBC semifinals and final from March 20-22.