Yasiel Puig seems like a logical trade candidate for the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason.
The Dodgers are aiming to stay below the luxury tax in 2019 and beyond, according to a report based on financial documents intended for investors that the Los Angeles Times published about last week. The same document said the Dodgers were aiming to have their payroll at $185 million for 2019.
The Dodgers’ 2019 payroll is projected as $180.5 million by Baseball-Reference.com. That figure is now bumped up to over $198 million after Hyun-Jin Ryu accepted his $17.9 million qualifying offer. The move leaves the Dodgers with very little payroll flexibility to add players if the team is intending to stick to the reported budget. One way to create some space would be by trading away players set to make good chunks of money this season. And that’s where Puig comes in.
Puig is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn around $11 million in his final year of arbitration. When you combine the Dodgers’ surplus of outfielders with their need to add other players, such as bullpen help and possibly a catcher to replace Yasmani Grandal, a trade of Puig would make sense.
The Dodgers have Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Matt Kemp, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor who can all play the outfield, in addition to Puig. Pederson, Hernandez and Taylor are all arbitration players who are projected to make around $10 million combined next year, while Bellinger is not even arbitration eligible yet and will be making even less. Kemp’s salary is $21.75 million, so he wouldn’t be attractive as a trade piece. But Puig at $11 million would be.
The Dodgers seem to have already shown a willingness to part with Puig after offering him for Bryce Harper twice last season. Don’t be surprised if they decide to trade him this offseason, despite his status as a fan favorite.