Despite the rumor mill churning out Yasiel Puig’s name with plenty of regularity throughout last offseason, he remained with the Los Angeles Dodgers. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts often carried an optimistic tone when discussing Puig.
The club did issue Puig a mandate to lose weight, which they hoped would help him avoid recurring hamstring injuries. Puig obliged, and reported to Spring Training with a slimmer physique, renewed work ethic, and attitude.
But he suffered a hamstring strain in June and endured another inconsistent season. The Dodgers attempted to trade their polarizing outfielder, but were unable to, and demoted him to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Puig returned in September and had a strong close to the regular season, only to again find himself at the center of trade rumors. While it hardly should be taken as absolute certainty, Roberts said he expects Puig to remain with the club.
This offseason is further similar to 2015, as the Dodgers have once more asked Puig to shed some weight. “There’s a lot of muscle mass, and he believes in getting stronger and staying stronger,” Roberts said from the Winter Meetings.
“But I think that the natural foundation of his strength is plenty. … So he was receptive, and it’s more about leaning out, because there’s plenty of strength in there.”
How Puig factors into the Dodgers’ outfield picture next season isn’t immediately clear. There is a clear void in right field now that Josh Reddick is with the Houston Astros, but the Dodgers haven’t given any indication Puig will regain his standing as an everyday starter.
What may work in Puig’s favor is the .261/.313/.471 he hit with six home runs and 19 RBIs over 131 plate appearances against left-handers this season, which was an area the team greatly struggled in.
However, overall in 104 games, Puig had his worst season as a big leaguer, hitting .263/.323/.416 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs.