Trading Yasiel Puig feels like a touchy subject within the Dodger community. He, as Vin Scully puts it, is the wild horse. He is only 25 years old, and still has a boatload of potential.
Dodgers fans like myself fell in love with them when he first joined the team in June of 2013, when the San Diego Padres didn’t know what to do with him and threw him easy pitches that went for home runs. Puig also proved he can be a 5 tool player, showing off his speed and his ability to get guys out from the outfield. He showed he’s one of a kind, and he’s ours.
Fast forward to today, and Puig is not the same guy. Teams have figured out to pitch to Puig, which basically is trying to get him to chase pitches. Puig is still in love with swinging at the first pitches, which can put him in a quick 0-1 hole in the pitch count. He also has lapses in the field, sometimes overrunning bases only to get out, or throwing the ball home allowing a runner to reach the next base. We know all of this. But then he does this.
Whether you like Puig or not, we all have an emotional attachment to the guy, and those who still defend him are attached to his potential. He’s the girlfriend you are struggling with and debating whether you should break up with her or not, but you want it to work. He may end up like a Tim Tebow or a Vince Young, never living up to his potential. People were enamored with Tebow’s athleticism and Young’s speed, but they never stuck in the NFL. Another example that comes to mind is Michelle Wie (shoutout to women’s golf!). Wie came into the sport as a 16 year old and was supposed to be the face of the sport. But she flamed out.
On the flip side, Puig can come back and be the next Jimmy Butler or an Andrew McCutchen, two athletes that didn’t figure it out right away but are now stars. Puig can even stay flashy and still be good, like a Terrell Owens or a Dennis Rodman kind of player. The sky is the limit for that guy. But as of right now, he isn’t there, most recently shown by him partying in OKC with his teammates.
Puig is currently on trade waivers, and if Puig is traded by Wednesday, that player is eligible to make the playoff roster. This doesn’t give a lot of time, but if the Milwaukee Brewers ask for Puig and offer Ryan Braun, the Dodgers have to listen.
Braun isn’t exactly a fan favorite to Dodgers fans, as some of us are still salty that Braun robbed Matt Kemp of the 2011 MVP, just to get caught for taking steroids. Regardless of this, Braun can still rake. At age 33, Braun has a .314 average with 24 home runs, showing that he still has power despite him being over 30. Also, Braun is a right-hander, which would help the Dodgers woes on hitting left handed pitching, because the Dodgers are a left hand dominant lineup. If the Dodgers trade for Braun, they would put him in right field, keep Joc Pederson in center, and have a major platoon in left field with Kendrick, Reddick, and Ethier if/when he comes back.
The Dodgers are primed to win now. Adrian Gonzalez is 34 and isn’t going to stay this good forever. Justin Turner is 31 and is in the prime of his career, and will soon get a big pay raise. Starting second baseman Chase Utley is 37 and in the twilight of his career. Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen are 28, the age considered to be a player’s peak. Kenta Maeda, although a rookie, is 28, and the bullpen arms like Adam Libertore and Pedro Baez are 29 and 28, respectively. There are obvious exceptions like Corey Seager and Pederson, but the majority of the team isn’t 25 and under. The Dodgers aren’t getting any younger, and trading Puig for Braun might bring that extra edge the Dodgers desperately need to win now. Braun is proven talent, and Puig is the opposite.
Like I said before, the Dodgers wouldn’t have a lot of time to make this deal, but if this deal is dangled in front of Andrew Friedman, he should strongly consider it.