As you've probably heard, the Dodgers seem to be done with Yasiel Puig.
Sources say Yasiel Puig was informed on Monday he would either be demoted or traded. The expectation is he'll be optioned tomorrow.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) August 1, 2016
Puig's tenure in Los Angeles has been tenuous to say the least. He has long been the scorn of bad beat writers but his on-field play superceded his reputation as a clubhouse cancer. That production has fallen of a bit of a cliff - in 2015 he dropped from a 5 fWAR player to just 1.5 fWAR, and this year he's put up a pace of roughly a one win player. That's squarely below average and while Puig is still a bargain at well under $10 million dollars per year, he's not producing like a key part of a good team.
The fascination with Puig around these parts is obvious. He's scheduled to make $14 million dollars over the next two seasons which, for a guy who has shown All-Star caliber talent, is easily justifiable. It's largely assumed that a fair amount of Puig's issues come from playing in a big market under a big spotlight, and while scenery changes aren't a sure thing, Puig is a prime candidate to move some place a little less assuming. Enter Oakland, the land of the small market, home of zero national coverage outside of the occasional bad look at ownership. By virtue of being on a bad team with little national interest, Puig would have the closest thing to a bubble, protecting him from the ills that have supposedly befallen him down south. How interested should the A's be?
He's still a pretty good player
Puig's stats as of now are the worst they've ever been. He's in the midst of easily his worst year with the bat, and while he's a physical toolshed, his defense has never been anything but Cespedesian - fun as heck, but rather inefficient. His bat will determine his overall value.
Clubhouse stuff aside (and we'll get to that later), the timing of Puig's dismissal is a touch curious. It was largely spurred by the acquisition of one Josh Reddick, though statistically, Puig seemed to be pulling his season together. Since returning from the DL in late June, Puig hit .308/.390/.440 in 28 games and roughly 100 plate appearances.
Frankly, those are pretty Reddick like numbers but Puig has the tools to do more. Should we expect the All-Star the Dodgers had in 2013? Probably not, but expecting something in the realm of a 115 wRC+ is reasonable and at $14 million for two years, it'd be a bargain.
He's a problem in the clubhouse
That the Dodgers did decide to move on from Puig in the midst of a fairly hot streak is an indication to just how poorly they view his clubhouse presence. They're a team that clearly believes in this stuff and invests time and research into its effects, so their diagnosis shouldn't be taken lightly.
Still, we can't know how he would do in a new and presumably more fitting environment. Not only are the A's absent the large media spotlight that the Dodgers live in, they're in the midst of a no-expectations stretch of baseball. The playoffs are a virtual impossibility and the A's should be trying wonky new things across the diamond. Now would be the perfect time to try Puig out.
Unfortunately, the A's obtaining Puig probably isn't an option until next season (we'll discuss that more below). So while the testing ground is ripe for Puig's ways, the timing likely won't work out.
That would mean if the A's were to acquire him, it'd be for the 2017 season and having him as an opening day player which would put more on the line in the chemistry department. That's something the A's do in fact value, and Puig may be of no interest to the already weary A's front office.
What will a trade look like?
We're reasonably certain that Puig will be moved, save a drastic turn of events. We're past the non-waiver trade deadline, meaning that for Puig to be move before the offseason it'd be via a waiver trade. It's possible but unlikely this will happen, and even more unlikely it'd happen with the A's. For one, the Dodgers will have more leverage in the offseason when they can wheel and deal with every team. For the A's to claim Puig on the waiver wire, every National League team would be required to pass on Puig first, which just doesn't seem likely.
What would it cost the A's?
That's a harder question. With the Dodgers making it known worldwide that Puig is unwanted, the price can't be high. We know that they tried to move him this past deadline and weren't able to find a taker, meaning the Dodgers' price tag is a touch too high and other teams just aren't that interested.
The A's made a little deadline deal with the Dodgers and Puig wasn't on the return side which gives us some murky information. With three well touted pitchers in return, the A's may have been unwilling to cloud the trade return with Puig. Or maybe, they just didn't want Puig at all.
At any rate, the return won't be a blue chip prospect but will likely be a guy you've heard of before. So while the Dodgers indication that Puig is a clubhouse issue in need of being remove, they're not going to give him away for free.