Yasiel Puig is $42 million richer today, thanks to a Dodgers franchise with something to prove

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Of all the analyses offered in the wake of the Los Angeles Dodgers signing Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig to an enormous contract, I thought Lone Star Ball offered the most astute observation:

I didn't even know there was a Yasiel Puig.

Indeed, while I may have been aware of Puig's existence at one point I had forgotten about him until waking up on Thursday morning. That was when we learned that Puig got paid to the tune of seven years and $42 million. It's the richest deal ever signed by a Cuban defector, besting the six-year, $36 million contract that Yoenis Cespedes signed with the A's after a lot more hype and attention last winter.


The 21-year-old Puig batted .330 with 17 home runs, 47 RBIs and 78 runs scored in 327 at-bats with the Cienfuegos Elefantes in the 2010-11 Cuban National Series. He averaged .370 in 46 at-bats in the playoffs.

Puig, who also was considered the fastest player in Cuban baseball, was left off the Cienfuegos team for the 2011-12 season after having been caught on several occasions trying to escape the country. He finally succeeded in defecting last month and established residency in Mexico.

Like the Cubs' signing of fellow Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler earlier this month, the Dodgers' reason for showing Puig the money seem obvious. With a cap for international spending nearing its implementation, the new Dodgers ownership group had one last chance to flex its financial muscle in that arena. For better or worse, they took it.

With more than $200 million committed to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier over the next decade, it's a little curious that they'd dump even more money into the outfield pool. But I'd say this is a great sign for Dodgers fans as long as the signing doesn't affect any offseason free-agent additions to the team's rotation (*cough*Cole Hamels*cough*) or an infield that could use a big bat. This Dodgers ownership group has a lot of money and they're not afraid to spend it. As our own Tim Brown writes, it's a clear signal the Dodgers want to return to the days of acting like a large-market franchise.

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