8:25pm: The Giants expect to be contenders to sign Puig when the league lifts its transaction freeze Friday, Jim Bowden of The Athletic tweets. They were connected to Puig on multiple occasions over the winter.
11:01am: Prior to their deal with former Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization spoke to outfielder Yasiel Puig about a potential deal for the 2020 season, Heroes GM Kim Chi-hyun tells Jee-ho of the Yonhap News Agency (Twitter link). Ultimately, Puig’s preference was to take another shot at latching on with a Major League team once play resumes.
As entertaining as it might’ve been to see what type of numbers Puig could post in the KBO (to say nothing of the bat flips he might unleash), it’s not much of a surprise that he prefers to wait to see what type of interest he might garner on a big league deal at this point. Puig doesn’t appear to have been thrilled with the offers he received over the winter and surely won’t find a better deal now amid enormous revenue losses throughout MLB, but there’s plenty of reason to think he might yet find his way onto a roster.
Not only are teams are expected to expand active rosters to 30 players — plus a taxi squad of up to perhaps 20 players — but the universal DH is expected to be implemented for the 2020 season. That’s not to say that Puig is a poor fielder or prime DH candidate. To the contrary, he graded out as an average right fielder in 2019 and has a track record of above average performances. But the added bat to each lineup of the 15 NL clubs still makes it easier for any of them to justify signing him, whether to serve as a primary DH, to push a lesser defensive outfielder into a DH role or simply to add him to a corner outfield/DH rotation. The truncated 60-game schedule might give some clubs hope of fielding a competitive club under an “anything can happen” mentality.
Financially speaking, Puig it doesn’t seem likely that Puig would field particularly lucrative offers once the transaction freeze is lifted. That said, he might still stand to earn more than he would’ve in the KBO, where the maximum salary for a first-year foreign player is $1MM (and where he’d be playing on a prorated deal as well, since the season is already underway). Plus, in order to sign with the Heroes or any other KBO team, he’d have had to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arriving in South Korea. At this point, assuming MLB is actually able to begin play on July 24-26 as hoped, the timeline for Puig to get into an MLB game and the timeline to get into a KBO game might not be all that different.