A few years ago, it looked like Yasiel Puig was going to be the next big star in Los Angeles. The Cuban-born outfielder had immediate success with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being called-up in June of 2013. Three years later however, his future with the team is extremely murky.
Puig was officially demoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The move came one day after the Dodgers acquired Josh Reddick and Rich Hill from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton, and Frankie Montas. Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi decided to send Puig down to Triple-A after this trade was made, so as to make room for Reddick. The team tried to trade him before the 4 P.M. deadline. They were unable to find a viable trade partner however. Puig himself was told on Monday that he would either be traded or sent down.
Zaidi was certainly justified in his decision to demote his All-Star right fielder. Puig just hasn’t been the same player this season that he’s been in past years. He’s battled through a hamstring injury and has seen his playing time shrink due to decreased performance. Puig has played in 81 games this season and is hitting .260 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs. The slugging outfielder is not putting up the numbers that the Dodgers expected him to.
Hamstring problems held Puig back in 2015 as well. He only played in 79 games all of last season because of a reoccurring issue with his left hamstring. He batted just .255 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs. The Dodgers made the playoffs in 2015, but he was basically useless for them. In the NLDS against the New York Mets, he did not get a single hit in six at-bats and also struck out three times. The Dodgers lost the series in five games.
Things look very bleak for Puig right now. It’s hard to believe that in 2013, many people thought that he was going to be one of the best players in baseball for the next decade. The Dodgers signed him to a seven-year, $42 million contract back in June of 2012. A power-hitting outfielder from Cuba with a rocket arm in the outfield, Puig had all the potential to be a great player in the MLB.
A year after being signed, he was promoted to the the Majors. He hit .319 with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs in 104 games that season. Puig had an even better season in 2014, batting .296 with 16 homers and 69 RBIs. This earned him a spot on the NL All-Star team for the first time in his career. Puig was looking like a star in the making at that point. Unfortunately, then came the fall.
Puig’s decline has been surprisingly swift. It’s really happened over the last two years, caused partially by his hamstring injuries and mainly by his inability to produce while healthy. If Puig had been putting up good numbers while healthy, he might still be with the Dodgers instead of Triple-A.
Yasiel Puig could still have a future in the MLB, but his days in LA are most likely coming to an end. The Dodgers have already moved on from him. He had the potential to succeed in Los Angeles, but was never really able to. Maybe he just wasn’t meant for Hollywood.