Yasiel Puig made a splash early in his Major League Baseball career when the Dodgers first brought him to the team. But some struggles as his career has gone on has seen him move around a bit. After the Dodgers traded him to the Reds before the 2019 season, he was dealt again — this time to the Indians — during the season.
As Spring Training 2020 gets underway, Puig remains a free agent still waiting to be signed by a team. While he has been inconsistent since getting to the majors in 2013, Puig can still add value to a team. And the most logical landing spot for the Cuban star is probably the Miami Marlins. Here’s why.
Yasiel Puig’s career to date
Puig debuted with the Dodgers to great fanfare in June 2013. He played in 104 games that season, hitting .319 with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs. That was his best season until 2017, when he hit a career-high 28 home runs with 74 RBIs, despite his average dropping to .263.
Puig’s average has remained in the .260s since then, with his home run totals in the 20s each season. For his seven-year career, Puig is a .277 hitter with 132 home runs and 415 RBIs. He has a 20 WAR for his career to date. He may not be the player everyone expected him to be after his debut season, but he’s still better than many Major League outfielders.
Puig compared to the 2020 free-agent class
This offseason’s free-agent class had several high-profile players at the top, with Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon highlighting the free-agent pool. That trio, along with Zack Wheeler, signed nine-digit deals this offseason.
Puig was around the middle-to-bottom of the available free agents as the offseason started, but he is one of the better players still available as the season quickly approaches. He probably won’t be able to get much more than a two- or three-year contract, and the longer he waits, the higher the possibility of him getting just a one-year contract. He made $9.7 million last season, and that is probably around the ceiling that he can expect to get in an average annual value with whatever deal he signs this year. The clock is ticking as we get closer to the season, so Puig’s leverage in any negotiations is going down with each passing day.
Why it makes sense for the Marlins to sign Yasiel Puig
The Marlins are a bad team without much star power who don’t draw well at the gates. Without any sign of success on the horizon, the Marlins would be wise to sign a player like Puig, who would bring the team positive attention without ownership having to break the bank with a nine-figure deal like the top free agents get.
Adding a veteran like Puig is the best chance the Marlins have to increase their attendance, which was last in the majors last season. The Marlins averaged 10,016 fans per game, and they were the only team with total attendance for the season of fewer than 1 million.
Also working in the Marlins’ favor is Puig’s Cuban heritage. With there being a lot of Cubans in the Miami area, the team would likely sell a lot of Puig merchandise, in addition to selling more tickets to people who want to see him play in person.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly could also be a selling point for Puig. Mattingly has an existing relationship with Puig, having managed the outfielder during his first three seasons with the Dodgers. With not much before the season starts, going to a team with a manager he knows may help Puig get acclimated to his team faster.
Yasiel Puig may not be the star he seemed destined to become, but he would be a low-risk investment and a good fit for a Marlins team with little left to lose.