The Baltimore Orioles have made an offer to free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig, and if he signs a contract, the move could work out well for both parties.
We all know the Orioles active roster lacks a lot of Major League talent, and that was before three outfielders were sidelined. Trey Mancini is out for the year due to his cancer diagnosis, and Anthony Santander and Dwight Smith Jr. have not participated in any preseason drills as of yet. Puig would obviously be a big-time upgrade in right field over light-hitting utility guys like Stevie Wilkerson and Andrew Velazquez.
2019 was considered a down year for Puig, but he still put up solid offensive production. His slash line with the Reds and Indians was .267/.327/.458 for an OPS of .785, a little above league average, and an OPS+ of 100, exactly league average. Puig hit 24 home runs with 84 RBI’s and 19 steals. Those numbers might not stand out, per se, but even a healthy DJ Stewart might not be able to hit that well.
I don’t expect Puig to play up to his best years with the Dodgers, but with a chance to hit in the middle of a lineup at a hitter’s park he can certainly rebound. And at just 29 years old, he still has a lot left in the tank. Puig would also bring an excitement factor to the field which the Orioles haven’t really showcased since they traded Manny Machado (Mancini might be the mildest star in the league).
A deal with the Orioles would also make sense from Puig’s standpoint. He has been a free agent since last season ended, meaning he has been sitting at home for nine months not knowing if he will get another chance in the MLB. Hitting third for Baltimore will allow him to prove himself to the league again and he will be able to sign a more deserving contract in the future.
We have not heard what the offer is to Puig, but I would guess it is a two year deal in the $5-8 million range. Puig made $9.7 million last year, so a low-budget team like the Orioles can scoop him up for a bargain. Some might expect a one year deal, but manager Brandon Hyde said it would be unlikely for Puig to be ready by opening day.
The purpose of signing Puig is not just to fill a hole, but the Orioles will try to trade him for prospects. If Puig can only play 25 games before the deadline and around the same amount after, the Orioles won’t get much for him. With a second year, GM Mike Elias could trade him in the offseason or the middle of 2021 for a better return.
The Orioles need another outfielder, and Yasiel Puig deserves another chance. A deal could potentially benefit both sides in the short term and the longer term.