Yasiel Puig has been a polarizing figure since he first joined the Dodgers in 2013. He has had some ups and downs on the field, partially due to injuries, but he has also dealt with his share of controversy. Puig has had an eventful year since the end of the 2018 season. He was traded twice and earned his first Major League Baseball suspension shortly after he went from the Reds to the Indians. But he may have had one of the most productive suspensions in baseball history.
Signing with the Dodgers and early career
The Cuba native signed with the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in late June 2012 at the age of 21. He briefly played in the minors that season, and then he participated in the Arizona Fall League and Puerto Rican Winter League in the offseason.
After playing 40 games with AA Chattanooga to begin the 2013 season, Yasiel Puig made his major league debut with the Dodgers on June 3, 2013, going 2-for-4 in a 2-1 win against the Padres. He had three hits the following day, including his first two career home runs. He ended up playing 104 games with the Dodgers that year, hitting .319 with 19 home runs and finishing second to the late Jose Fernandez in National League Rookie of the Year voting.
Yasiel Puig’s roller-coaster ride since his debut
Puig has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride in the years since then. He played in 148 games in 2014, but his production went down as he hit .296 with 16 homers. Since then, he has not had an average higher than .263. His power has come back in recent years, though. Puig hit just 11 home runs in each of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but then he vaulted up to a career-best 28 home runs in 2017. He hit 23 homers last year in what proved to be his final season with the Dodgers.
An eventful time since the 2018 World Series
After the Dodgers lost in the World Series for the second straight season last October, the Dodgers decided to make some moves in the offseason.
One of those involved trading Puig to the Reds in a seven-player deal. He hit .252 with 22 home runs in 100 games with the Reds before they traded him to the Indians as part of a three-team trade on July 30. That same day, just minutes after being traded, Yasiel Puig joined a benches-clearing brawl in the Pirates-Reds games, for which he was suspended three games. He initially appealed the punishment, but he eventually dropped his appeal and began serving the suspension on August 12.
Yasiel Puig makes the most of his suspension
While he was out for the Indians’ three games against the Red Sox, Puig became an American citizen. It was a long journey for the outfielder, who made at least four unsuccessful attempts at fleeing Cuba before he finally succeeded and made it to Mexico and eventually signed with the Dodgers.
After earning his citizenship, Puig shared the good news on Instagram, captioning a picture of him holding a miniature American flag with “Thank you 🙏 God for this great opportunity to be an American citizen 👌,” followed by three American flag emojis.
The patriotic post received more than 100,000 likes in just over two weeks. He played his first post-suspension game on August 15, the day after becoming a citizen, and went 2-for-5, with two RBIs and a run scored as the Indians crushed the Yankees in the Bronx, 19-5. Puig hit his first home run as an American citizen a day later.