Though Baltimore is interested in Puig, Heyman says it’s a mystery what’s going on with the outfielder.
The Orioles are 8-7 as of Friday’s win over the Washington Nationals. They have used Anthony Santander, Austin Hays and Dwight Smith Jr. in the outfield this season.
Puig, 29, batted .267 with a .785 OPS and 24 home runs last season, split between the Reds and Indians. He needed two negative COVID-19 tests to become eligible to play. A month has passed since his positive test, which should be plenty of time for him to have tested negative. Despite being a free agent, Puig has seemingly been picky about choosing his next team.
The Braves likely entered the Puig sweepstakes after veteran outfielder Nick Markakis announced recently that he is opting out of the 2020 season. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that an ankle injury to prospect Christian Pache on Monday night also factored into the decision. Puig should have a clear path to a starting job now, which probably played a role in why he signed with Atlanta.
Puig definitely still seems to want to get paid a good amount, but the market just hasn’t been there for him. He’s 29 now and hit a modest .267 last season for Cincinnati and Cleveland, though he did contribute 24 home runs. Puig probably won’t come close to hitting .300 again, but he’s got 20-homer pop and can bring energy to a team. That may be what the Orioles, who aren’t expected to contend, need to at least provide a little shot in the arm.
Yasiel Puig remains a free agent as Major League Baseball and the MLBPA try to come to an agreement for the 2020 season, but the outfielder is reportedly not entertaining the idea of playing overseas.
Puig has received interest from multiple Korean Baseball Organization teams. However, Korean sports reporter Jason Lee reported on Wednesday that the 29-year-old has “absolutely no interest” in signing with a KBO team.
[MBC Sports Plus] | Matt Harvey has been in contact with at least two KBO teams, with Boras Corp being aggressive in negotiations.
Furthermore, another KBO team reached out to Yasiel Puig recently but Puig had “absolutely no interest” in playing in Korea.#KBOpic.twitter.com/3asopN59AK
Puig could have signed with an MLB team by now if he wanted, but he turned down an offer from the Miami Marlins for a very specific reason. The San Francisco Giants were also said to be open to signing Puig at one point, but that talk has cooled off over the past few months.
Puig hit .267 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI and an OPS of .785 in time split between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians last year. While he may be overplaying his hand a bit, it would be a surprise if he can’t find an MLB team to sign him prior to the start of the season (whenever that may be).
Yasiel Puig could have had a deal with the Miami Marlins this offseason, but he turned it down for a very specific reason.
The ex-All-Star outfielder, who is doing humanitarian work in Miami amid the coronavirus pandemic, told Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald this week that he declined a free agent offer from the Marlins. Puig indicated it was because he wanted more money due to the high expectations that would come with playing in front of his native Cubans.
“They were among the first to make me an offer,” said Puig, according to a rough translation from Spanish. “I did not agree with the amount. I asked for a little more to play in front of my Cubans, close to my homeland. But it is also difficult. I played six years with the Dodgers. It was another hobby. There my Mexicans adore me, they appreciate me. I don’t have to hit 5-for-5.”
The 29-year-old Puig, who also said that he has multiple offers on the table from other teams as well, was born in Cuba and defected from the island nation in 2012. Miami, meanwhile, has a significant population of Cuban immigrants and sits just a couple-hundred miles away from Cuba itself.
The story of Puig’s defection is an absolutely incredible one, but as for the story of his 2020 free agency, that one will take a little while longer to resolve.
Still, former Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi is now head of baseball operations in San Francisco and is thus acquainted with the ex-All-Star Puig. While a more bizarre pairing may be on the table for him as well, a return to the NL West does seem to be quite possible for Puig.
San Francisco Giants fans used to hate Yasiel Puig while he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it sounds like there’s at least a chance the outfielder could be playing for his former rivals in 2020.
According to baseball writer Robert Murray, the Giants have interest in Puig, who remains a free agent with spring training looming.
Sources: #SFGiants have interest in free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig. Familiarity with Farhan Zaidi from their together time in LA.
We haven’t heard much about Puig in a while. He’s still in search of a job a year after hitting .267 with 24 home runs with the Reds and Indians. He and the Giants have not gotten along over the years, but with Madison Bumgarner departing the team, he may receive a warmer welcome if both sides make this happen.
The Giants brought back Hunter Pence on Friday. It’s not clear if this will dissuade the team from making any pursuit of Puig, but the Cuban outfielder’s free agency is still worth following either way.
Yasiel Puig is an under-the-radar free agent this winter, and one team might be looking to capture the excitement he can bring to a game.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Puig met with the Miami Marlins during the Winter Meetings in San Diego to discuss potentially being reunited with manager Don Mattingly and moving closer to his Miami home.
Sources: under the radar Marlins met with free agent OF Yasiel Puig in San Diego. Looking for impact OF bat on relatively short term. Also met while there with agents on Avisail Garcia and Corey Dickerson (and possibly other outfielders)
Puig suggested in meeting to Marlins he’d like to play again for Don Mattingly (and of course Derek Jeter). He’d also like to play near his Miami home. Was plus he trekked to San Diego for confab. Dickerson, Calhoun among others under consideration. Avisail might be a tad pricey.
On paper, this makes a lot of sense. The Marlins need anything resembling a marquee name right now. Puig, meanwhile, would like to rebuild his value after a down year that saw him hit .267 with 24 home runs between Cincinnati and Cleveland.
As noted, Puig has history with Mattingly, the Marlins’ manager. It’s not all good history, but it sounds like a reunion would suit the outfielder just fine.
After four years apart, Yasiel Puig and Don Mattingly could find themselves back together again.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Thursday that the veteran outfielder Puig could be a fit for the Miami Marlins this winter. Heyman also notes Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna as other options they are considering as well as Avisail Garcia as another potential target along with Puig.
Of course, Puig, who hit .267 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs last season, is a noteworthy inclusion here. He played under Mattingly, the current Marlins manager, for three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013 to 2015. Mattingly was let go by the Dodgers following the 2015 season and promptly became Miami’s manager. Puig, meanwhile, stuck around with the Dodgers for a bit before being traded away after the 2018 campaign.