TUESDAY, 10:53pm: The Mets aren’t in on Puig, Andy Martino of SNY tweets.
10:27pm: The Dodgers are “actively” attempting to trade either or both of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. Los Angeles would presumably have a much easier time moving the mercurial Puig, who’s the younger, less expensive and better of the two outfielders.
The 28-year-old Puig is projected to make an affordable $11.3MM in 2019, his last season of team control, and is reportedly “open” to playing for another club after developing a distrust of Dodgers management in 2018. The right-handed Puig has fallen flat against left-handed pitchers in back-to-back years, but nevertheless, he didn’t like that the Dodgers limited his playing time versus southpaws in 2018. Despite that, Puig still turned in another quality offensive season, hitting .267/.327/.494 (123 wRC+) with 23 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 444 plate appearances. Since then, the Indians, Mets and Reds have been connected to Puig.
Kemp, 34, was similarly effective at the plate in 2018, as he bounced back from a rough 2017 in Atlanta to bat .290/.338/.481 (122 wRC+) with 21 long balls in 506 PAs. However, Kemp tailed off in the second half of the season, continued to struggle in the outfield and is due an unreasonable $21.5MM next year. The Dodgers figure to have trouble dealing Kemp, then, unless they eat a large portion of his salary or swap him for another team’s undesirable contract.
Jettisoning one or both of the Puig-Kemp duo would still leave the Dodgers with other outfield-capable players in Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez, Andrew Toles and high-end prospect Alex Verdugo. Plus, given the Dodgers’ ability to spend, they may add to the group by signing Bryce Harper, the best, most expensive outfielder available in free agency. Incidentally, the Dodgers reportedly offered Puig to the Nationals for Harper at last summer’s trade deadline.