On Saturday, Buster Olney wrote about the possibility of the Los Angeles Dodgers trading mercurial right fielder Yasiel Puig. The trade rumors for Puig will get even hotter after Andy Van Slyke -- father of Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke -- implied in a radio interview that Clayton Kershaw had said the team should trade Puig:
This is a problem, of course, the biggest name on the team calling out Puig, even if through the unusual circumstance of a father of another player.
The Dodgers backhandedly admitted Puig needed to upgrade his work ethic at the general managers meetings earlier this month when president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said they wanted him to lose weight.
So there continue to be a lot of indications that Dodgers players and staffers are pretty sick of Puig, and sources within the organization say the team’s leadership above Friedman is much more open to the idea of moving Puig than it would’ve been, say, 18 months ago.
This is a classic situation when being a big-market, big-budget team such as the Dodgers has advantages, because you really don’t have to worry about maximizing value in trades the way that someone such as Oakland’s Billy Beane or Cleveland's Chris Antonetti does, or the way that Friedman did when he ran the Tampa Bay Rays.
Of course, the Dodgers aren't going to give away Puig just to get rid of him, considering his ability and contract (he makes $7.2 million, $8.2 million and $9.2 million the next three seasons and then has an arbitration season in 2019). Also, keep in mind the Dodgers outfield isn't necessarily a strength at the moment: Joc Pederson slumped big time in the second half; Andre Ethier had a good season but will be 34 and in 2014 was worth minus-0.1 WAR; Carl Crawford was hurt much of 2015; Van Slyke is a platoon player; Enrique Hernandez rode a high BABIP against left-handers to produce good numbers in a part-time role. There's depth in numbers but some concerns with everybody.
What the Dodgers could do, however, is trade Puig and then sign a free-agent outfielder such as Alex Gordon or Jason Heyward. Here are five potential trade partners:
Colleague Jim Bowden mentioned this idea and it would be maximum value for the Dodgers: Puig for Carlos Carrasco. In fact, Carrasco's contract is so team friendly -- $37.5 million for five more seasons, a total that includes two team options -- that the Dodgers may actually have to sweeten the pot a bit. Carrasco went 14-12 with a 3.63 ERA but struck out 216 in 183.2 innings. His FIP was 2.84, so his peripheral numbers are terrific. This could be the best match as the Dodgers would want immediate help over prospects and the Indians are looking for offense. Having Terry Francona around to manage Puig also could be a plus.
There were reports the other day that the White Sox would consider trading Avisail Garcia, which ... umm, I doubt anyone wants Garcia. But that report shows the White Sox believe Garcia isn't the long-term solution in right field. The White Sox finished next to last in the American League in walks and OBP, so Puig would provide some much-needed improvement there.
The guy the Dodgers would want: Jose Quintana, the most underrated starter in baseball. He has been worth 12.9 WAR over the past three seasons, hitting 200 innings each season. After giving up 23 home runs in 2013, he has allowed just 26 the past two seasons combined. Considering he also is signed through 2020 (including two team options) and is thus similar in value to Carrasco, I think the Dodgers would have to sweeten this pot as well, but they could trade from their depth and that's what the White Sox need.
The rebuilding Phillies have only four outfielders on their 40-man roster right now and two of them are former third baseman Cody Asche and former shortstop Roman Quinn. Puig is exactly the kind of player they should take a chance on, although they would probably do it only in a buy-low scenario. I'm not sure there's a match here, however, except maybe Ken Giles, who would provide a top setup man for Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers aren't going to trade Puig straight up for a reliever and would certainly prefer a starter over bullpen help, so this deal would have to be expanded in some form.
The Mariners need another outfielder and considering they now have the longest playoff drought in the majors, gambling on Puig would be interesting. Like the Phillies, a match is difficult given Seattle's lack of depth across the major league roster and a bad farm system. The Mariners would be reluctant to deal the upside of Taijuan Walker but that's what it would take -- and Walker alone might not be enough.
Have you seen their outfielders? Outside of Adam Jones it's a pretty sorry group. The Orioles ranked 24th in the majors in wOBA from their outfield, even with Jones. The Orioles have never seemed to completely believe in Kevin Gausman, so maybe there's something there, although that would be a big sell-low by the Dodgers. Zach Britton still has three years until free agency, but again, it will take more than even a dominant closer like Britton to get Puig.