After playing through one and a half seasons with a surplus of outfielders, the Los Angeles Dodgers appear set on eliminating the crowding this winter. It’s been reported the team is shopping it’s pair of left-handed outfielders along with Matt Kemp.
Given the level of play Kemp finished the 2014 season at, his name has garnered attention, but it’s Andre Ethier whom many believe is most likely to be traded. Not included in the outfielders that are being dangled on the trade market is Yasiel Puig.
According to ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon, that isn’t because ownership wouldn’t allow for it, but rather due to Puig’s talent and feasible contract:
I'm told notion #Dodgers won't trade Puig because owners forbid it is untrue. They won't because he's good and makes 1/3 other OFs salaries
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) November 17, 2014
Prior to the Dodgers’ shuffling their front office and the Chicago Cubs hiring Joe Maddon, it was reported Puig was being shopped and the Cubs were among the teams interested.
As Saxon indicates, Puig’s current contract calls for him to be paid far less than what Carl Crawford, Ethier and Kemp are owed. Crawford has three years and $62.25 million remaining on his contract and will turn 36 years old in August of the final year of the contract.
Ethier is owed $18 million in each of the next two seasons and then $17.5 million in 2017. His contract includes a vesting option for 2018 also at $17.5 million but it comes with a $2.5 million buyout.
Of the Dodger outfielders, including Puig, Kemp is signed for the longest period of time. After receiving $20 million in 2015, Kemp’s annual salary will be $21.5 million through the 2019 season. Comparatively, Puig signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Dodgers in June of 2012.
Aside from having the most favorable contract, keeping Puig makes the most on-field sense for the Dodgers. While he was brought up playing right field, his ability to play center allowed for Kemp to find a new home and may afford Joc Pederson more time to ease his way into a starting role with the Dodgers.
Trading Puig would put the Dodgers at risk of not having an adequate option in center field with significant experience. While Andrew Friedman revealed his belief the Dodgers need to trade an outfielder at the general managers’ meetings last week, the winter meetings, which are scheduled for Dec. 8-11 could bring definitive answers.