Why does no one want Yasiel Puig?

The MLB offseason has been utter chaos thanks to the Astros cheating scandal, but the free-agent portion has been relatively calm. Most major free agents found teams early on, unlike in 2019 when Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remained teamless into spring training.

The biggest name yet to sign is outfielder Yasiel Puig. The former Dodgers star has been linked to a number of teams this offseason, but with three weeks left to go until Opening Day, there has yet to be any major smoke surrounding a potential signing.

The seven-year veteran from Cuba has been a polarizing player for much of his MLB career. He had a spectacular rookie season in 2013, batting .319 with 19 home runs and a .925 OPS over 104 games. Combined with his penchant for highlight-reel plays in the field and on the basepaths, some anointed him as one of the league’s next superstars.

But he never reached the same heights in the years that followed. His OPS and slugging percentage fell in each of the next three years, and he was demoted to Triple-A in 2016. He did mash 28 home runs in 2017, but the Dodgers traded him to Cincinnati in 2018.

Yasiel Puig
Yasiel PuigGetty Images

Now, the 29-year-old is still searching for a team as the 2020 season inches closer. According to the Los Angeles Times, Puig received a $10 million offer from a National League team for one year, but turned it down. The same report said the Angels were considering him, but “not too seriously.”

An ESPN report said the Rays and Giants were both interested, but the Giants signed 36-year-old Hunter Pence instead.

What gives? For one, teams may be turned off by his penchant to take risks. In Los Angeles, he was known just as much for his enthralling plays as his bone-headed ones; there were several occasions where he blew through a stop sign on the basepaths or airmailed a cutoff man in the outfield in attempt to throw someone out.

His focus has also been called into question. In 2014, he was benched for missing a team meeting. When he was demoted in 2016, he was called out for posting photos of himself partying following a loss.

Still, despite a 2018 season during which he finished last in the league among right fielders in fielding percentage, he is a gifted defender and an above-average hitter when locked in. He can certainly help a team looking to contend — it just remains to be seen when a deal will get done and whether it will be below the price tag he wants.

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