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Will they or won’t they? Can they or can’t they? For over two years, those have been the questions surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers as they tangle with the idea of trading Yasiel Puig.
The seemingly never-ending storyline added a new chapter on Friday. According to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Dodgers reached out to the Red Sox earlier this winter and floated the possibility of sending Puig to Boston. The Dodgers reportedly pitched the idea of swapping Puig for outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., but Boston reportedly declined discussing the matter beyond that initial phone call.
The report suggests a couple things. From the Red Sox perspective, they obviously don’t view Puig as the offensive upgrade they need. The money wouldn’t have been a huge issue with Puig due to make $9.2 million in 2018. Bradley, while certainly among the most talented defensive outfielders in the game, doesn’t have a guaranteed role with Boston. He’s a guy they should be willing to trade. This just wasn’t a fit for them.
From the Dodgers perspective, it clearly shows they are still looking for the right time and right place to trade their dynamic yet wildly inconsistent outfielder. As in past attempts though, which have included at least one blockbuster proposal to the Milwaukee Brewers involving Ryan Braun, those stars have yet to align.
Now the question is: Will those stars ever align, or are the Dodgers destined to carry on with Puig until the decision to stay or go will be in his hands after the 2019 season?
— Andy Mota (@agentmo1) January 5, 2018
It should be noted that tweet came out just hours after the Boston Globe report. Pretty interesting timing, though there’s no indication they were connected.
In many ways, it feels like now would be the best time to try selling Puig’s upside to other teams. Few stars shined brighter than Puig during the MLB postseason, where he hit .286/.365/.518 with three homers and 10 RBI over 15 games. The “Wild Horse” was all over the field, providing energy and moments that could have redefined his legacy had the Dodgers won Game 7 of the World Series.
As big a part of the Dodgers postseason success as he was, we were also reminded right before how fragile Puig’s standing with the team can be. He was reported to be in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse during the final week of the regular season after some on field and off field incidents that included showing up late for a pregame activity. There was even some question if Puig would be included on the Dodgers postseason roster, which shows how deep the frustration was running once again.
The Dodgers have searched for ways to motivate Puig to stay focused and on his best behavior. That included sending him to the minor leagues during the 2016 season. None have netted the results they’re looking for or convinced them he has or will turn the corner.
Other teams are paying attention to that too. Most are no doubt willing to look past his animated celebrations and bat flips. But all are going to be measured when it comes to trading from within their system to bring him aboard. Their interest might change when Puig’s a free agent after the 2019 season, but for now it seems all the Dodgers can do is make phone calls to see if that’s the day someone is ready to take the bait.
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