A Reunion Between the Indians and Yasiel Puig Makes Perfect Sense

Casey Drottar

It took a little while, but the Cleveland Indians finally made their first notable move of the offseason this week. With Cesar Hernandez now in tow at second base, Cleveland officially addressed the biggest concern on its roster.

While Cleveland’s infield appears set for Opening Day (provided there’s no shakeup at shortstop), the outfield is still a bit of a grey area.

As you can see, eliminating one of these corner platoons would do a lot of good for the Indians. When it comes to addressing this, it wouldn’t hurt to target a familiar face.

Yasiel Puig, an instant fan favorite during his short time with the Tribe last season, is still available. Pulling him off the market is a move which would make a ton of sense for the Indians.

Obviously, this goes beyond just ensuring the Chicago White Sox don’t sign him as part of their mission to land every free agent under the sun this winter. The Indians have options in the outfield, but almost all of them come with question marks. They could use an upgrade to solidify this, but also shouldn’t – and likely wouldn’t – feel compelled to splurge.

In Puig, Cleveland would have someone who checks both of those boxes.

For starters, the outfield market isn’t exactly loaded this winter. The two available corner outfielders with the highest WAR from 2019 are Nicholas Castellanos (2.8) and Marcell Ozuna (2.6). The former is a Scott Boras client, and therefore likely expecting to cash in on a big contract. The latter is coming off a season in which he made $12.25MM.

It’s safe to say the Indians won’t be pursuing either of these two.

From there, the options don’t carry as much appeal. Some are past their prime (Alex Gordon, Matt Joyce), while others didn’t boast a positive WAR in 2019 (Domingo Santana). Corey Dickerson could be worth consideration, as both FanGraphs and Steamer project his WAR increasing in 2020, though the team would need to ensure he’s properly healed from the fractured foot he suffered last season.

Then there’s Puig.

The Cuban-born right fielder was a little hot and cold for the Indians after they acquired him last July. His slash line was decent (.297/.377/.423), but he only offered Cleveland a WAR of 0.6 during his brief stint with the team.

Yet, he’d still represent an improvement if added to the Indians’ 2020 roster.

Of Cleveland’s outfielders, only Jordan Luplow, Oscar Mercado and Tyler Naquin finished with a higher WAR than Puig in 2019. Luplow’s struggles against righty pitching make him a platoon option for now. Mercado is set to be the Tribe’s starting center fielder. Naquin is recovering from ACL surgery.

Every other outfielder on Cleveland’s roster finished 2019 with a WAR of 0.8 or less.

One thing Puig has going for him is that both FanGraphs and Steamer are a little bullish when it comes to his 2020 projections. Each has him boosting his slash line, WAR and wRC+ next season.

Another is the fact his market seems a bit cool at the moment.

Puig reportedly met with several teams at the MLB winter meetings, yet remains unsigned. The White Sox have been talking to him, and the assumption seems to be that he can be had for a short-term deal.

Considering the fact he’s coming off a season in which he made $9.7MM, the Indians could certainly get something done here. There’d be no need for a lengthy contract, but an offer along the lines of one year for $10 million with a club option might do the trick if he’s still struggling to land a deal.

Puig may be holding out to see if the contracts Castellanos and Ozuna land set the market a little higher. As noted, the well certainly dries up once those two are removed from the equation.

Still, Cleveland would be wise to target him in the coming days. The team needs to think beyond the usual $1MM spring training invite on a past-his-prime free agent. The outfield is crowded with enough mediocrity as it is.

In Puig, the Indians could an everyday starter, who’s projected to improve in 2020, who likely won’t be too expensive and with whom they already have a level of familiarity with.

As you can see, a reunion between these two sure seems like the perfect fit.

Comments (14)
No. 1-9
Carlwine
Carlwine

Dolan's suck

Carlwine
Carlwine

Dolan's too cheep to pay him . Expect more payroll dumpster. Heading back to the 70's with lousy owner. Sell team to Cavs owner Dan !

CoachMikeGbrickCity
CoachMikeGbrickCity

I Love the Idea of Yasiel Puig in the Tribes Dugout to bolster the Playoff experience with the Team, I believe that both Lindor and Carlos Santana would keep The Wild 🐎 Horse Tamed to compete in the World Series

GAP2
GAP2

No on Puig. You have to consider your manager. We got lucky with him(Puig) last year but he's way too confrontational for Tito or any other manager to be expected to handle. Tito is an A+ manager - dont saddle him with a problem child.

Jwahoo
Jwahoo

Do you think we could sign both? That would really fortify the lineup.

2B Hernadez

CF Mercardo

SS Lindor

3B Ramirez

DH Reyes

1B Santana

RF Puig

LF Luplow/Dickerson

C Perez

That would give us a lineup that could get to October in my opinion.

Jwahoo
Jwahoo

It really does make sense but so does Corey Dickerson. An out field of RF Puig CF Mercado and LF Luplow/Dickerson would be season changing. Anyone think Jake Bauers can contribute next year? He could be the 4th guy providing power off the bench. DeShields would provide speed. Then you still have Allen, Zimmer, Naquin to all battle it out for the final spot.

On another note I like the idea of signing Rich Hill for the back end of the rotation and use the surplus in the rotation to solidify the bullpen.

Richard77
Richard77

This just makes way too much sense. 10-12 million for Puig and they are still below last year's payroll. They could even spend a few million more for a reliever. Before they signed Hernandez, if my math is right, they were in the low 90's for payroll. If you are really keeping Lindor, it's time to spend some money on a few good players around him. I agree that we don't need anymore million dollar or so gambles. Let's just please get what should be more of a sure thing.

2 Replies

cdrottar
cdrottar

Honestly, I'd be surprised if he signs for more than $10MM. The fact he's still available, and after going out of his way to meet with teams at the winter meetings, says his market is a little soft. It's a move the team can certainly afford, whether it's trading Lindor or not.

Carlwine
Carlwine

Dolan's don't care what should sell the team to Dan Gilbert

TSatSI2019
TSatSI2019

I agree with your agreement. But I NEVR use "we" when I refer to the various sporting teams I follow. I have yet to don a uniform, or GET PAID for my loyalty.

tribefan70
tribefan70

It isn't often I read an article that makes as much sense as this. Resigning Puig would be a great addition to our team. The only thing better than that would be signing Lindor long term. With the money saved from trading Kluber for Clase and DeShields, we just considr it as getting Puig with the change.


Opinion

FEATURED
COMMUNITY