In the wake of a disappointing playoff series loss, crazy things can happen. An organization might, for example, start rumblings about cleaning out the front office despite years of success and 94 regular season wins.
An organization might start flinging away its players left and right in the hopes of … I don’t know. Doing something.
For the most part, though, the craziest of things that an organization – say, the Dodgers – might do in this kind of situation could be limited solely to internal discussions, external rumors, and speculative hubbub that folks like us get to talk about on the interwebz.
Probably limited to that latter category, but so tantalizing and fun that we can’t not talk about it, is a rumor from George Ofman:
Are the Dodgers shopping Puig? You bet and the Cubs are one of several teams interested.
— George Ofman (@georgeofman) October 9, 2014
Before you immediately go throwing barbs, be cautioned that the odds on something crazy like this actually happening are extremely low. Even Ofman advises restraint:
Don't go nuts Cubs fans. interest is just interest. Puig arbitration eligible after next season
— George Ofman (@georgeofman) October 9, 2014
For what it’s worth: (1) Mike Petriello, who is a plugged-in Dodgers blogger, says he wouldn’t rule out the Dodgers shopping Puig, and (2) Ofman isn’t the only one hearing/thinking about the possibility of other teams trying to grab Puig:
Late-night thought: Yasiel Puig might be somebody Billy Beane would secretly target for a surprise deal.
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) October 8, 2014
So, let’s talk about this in an even-headed manner. Primarily, I cannot underscore it enough: the bar for being “interested” in a player is extremely low. The chances that the Dodgers actually wind up even receiving offers on Puig, let alone seriously considering them, are so very slim. Were this not a fun topic to discuss, I probably wouldn’t get too deeply into it for fear that you may not hear me when I blare it loudly: this is extremely unlikely to go anywhere.
Now, then …
The Dodgers aren’t going to ditch Puig simply because of whatever playoff ridiculousness led to Don Mattingly benching him in the final game of the NLDS against the Cardinals. Puig is 23, just posted his second straight killer season, and is relatively cost-controlled through 2018. He was worth 4.0 WAR in his rookie debut, and was worth 5.1 WAR this season after hitting .296/.382/.480 with a 10.5% BB rate and 19.4% K rate. Puig was awesome for the Dodgers, didn’t cost them a ton, and is one of the best young players in the league.
That said, the Dodgers do have some issues. They’ve got an aging, glutted outfield that doesn’t leave them room enough for all four of their nominal starters (Puig, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier), to say nothing of the best fifth outfielder in the game, Scott Van Slyke, and emerging top prospect Joc Pederson.
The real talk there, however, is that the Dodgers seem infinitely more likely to dump Crawford or Ethier, or perhaps deal Van Slyke (Dear Cubs: ask about him), than to trade away Puig. He’s the best “future” fit they’ve got out there. Why is he the one they would move? For the huge return, I suppose, but still – I’m circumspect.
Let’s also mention the fact that if the Dodgers do have a front office in upheaval right now, they’re not going to – or not going to be permitted to – make huge, franchise-altering trades right now.
If the Dodgers did take offers on Puig, how much could they ask? Well, a lot. Puig makes just $6.2 million next year, and then $7.2 million the year after, unless he opts for arbitration. Even if he goes the arbitration route, and even if he keeps killing it, he might make something like $8 million in 2016, $12 million in 2017, and $16 million in 2018. There’s surplus value there for miles.
Would the Cubs be a good match here, in the hypothetical universe where the Dodgers actually do shop Puig? Well, you could argue that the Cubs’ infield talent could entice the Dodgers, who might be set to lose Hanley Ramirez. But the Dodgers do already have one of the best shortstop prospects in baseball in Corey Seager, even if he might be a year or two away. Moreover, the Dodgers aren’t going to deplete their big league roster without supplementing it elsewhere – that could mean a top-notch young starter (not really something the Cubs have or would want to deal), and/or top-notch young bullpen pieces (something the Cubs have in spades, but not really something that’s going to net you Yasiel Puig).
I don’t want to play matchmaker too extensively on something that’s got such a remote chance of even becoming a real conversation, so I’ll leave it at this: yes, the Cubs could probably match up with the Dodgers on Puig, but they wouldn’t necessarily be the best fit out there. And if the contours of a deal were discussed, the price would be steep.
From the Cubs’ perspective, would they even want Puig?
Ok, that one’s easy. Of course they would. Not only do they have the flexibility to add an impact bat in the outfield, Puig could conceivably do it in center field, allowing the Cubs to go with Jorge Soler in right, Chris Coghlan in left (leaving open the possibility of Kris Bryant moving there eventually), and Arismendy Alcantara as a super utility guy. Sure, maybe Puig comes with a little extra … excitement … but the talent, the age, and the cost-control are too attractive to worry about the periphery.
So, there’s your discussion. I doubt anything comes of this, but, hey, this is what mid-October, post-Dodger-loss crazy rumor discussions are supposed to be.