The Yasiel Puig show is headed to Atlanta.
Puig, the 29-year-old polarizing outfielder, is joining the Atlanta Braves, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, as they try separate themselves in the competitive NL East. Puig was the last notable free agent on the market. The deal is pending a physical. Terms were not immediately reported.
We mostly know Puig in Dodger blue, having spent his first six seasons in L.A. after being signed out of Cuba, but last year, he split time with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. A preseason trade sent him to the rebuilding Reds and the Indians were hoping to get a trade-deadline boost out of Puig as they chased the Twins in the AL Central.
Puig was Puig in 2019, even outside of L.A. He hit .267/.327/.458 combined, with 24 homers and 84 RBIs. He plays solid defense and has a laser arm, but when you’re talking about Puig, you’re also talking about one baseball’s biggest personalities and some decent-sized baggage that some fans will never be able to forget. He’s sure to deliver highlights on the field, and all some surprises, like different hair colors or licking his bat.
Fair or not, he’s often the face of the era of bat flips and showboating. He had a track record of showing up late in L.A. and ruffling some teammates, but many of these issues seem to have dissipated once he left the Dodgers. Add him to a team that already has Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies and Marcell Ozuna, and the Braves will be fun to watch in 2020.
When Nick Markakis opted out for the season, it opened up a space with the Braves that Puig seems ready to fill. The Braves had Acuña, Ozuna and three-time Gold Glover winner Ender Inciarte pegged as their starting outfield for 2020, but the addition of Puig would allow them to have Ozuna DH and create a Acuna-Inciarte-Puig outfield that would also be quite good defensively.
The bigger issue with Puig is that he may never again be the player who took the league by storm in 2013 during his historic rookie run. He was solid in 2014 and earned an All-Star nod, but once the league caught up to him, he’s settled into being a player who hovers between 1.5 and 3.5 WAR.
He’ll continue to be a love-him-or-hate-him type player, with fans in Atlanta starting to enjoy the Yasiel Puig show as soon as he takes the field. Front-office execs and coaches will be hoping that the headaches that have come with it are things of the past, and instead they just get an exciting player who is good for some dazzling highlights every year.
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