Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig captured the imaginations of baseball personnel and fans with his .526 batting average in spring training, but the team announced Tuesday that the 22-year-old Cuban will be sent to its double-A affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers’ outfield already boasts Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford—Kemp and Crawford are both recovering from major operations—Kemp from shoulder surgery and Crawford from Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers can trade one of their outfielders to make room for Puig, but they want to see what a trio of Kemp, Ethier and Crawford can offer before they make such roster adjustments.
Though the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Puig has notable physical attributes now backed by inspiring Cactus League statistics, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly feels that sending him to the minor leagues will allow further fine-tuning of his skills.
“I kind of look at Yasiel like a Ferrari,” said Mattingly. “The motor’s there, the body’s there, the wheels are there. Everything’s there. We just haven’t painted it yet. You leave that out in the sun with no paint, then you get it exposed a little bit.”
In addition, sending Puig to the minor leagues will allow the Dodgers to retain his services longer and delay free agency by one year. Puig is currently in the second year of a seven-year, $42 million contract and if he spends 20 days or more in the minor leagues, he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2019 per baseball’s rules regarding its current collective bargaining agreement.
Ben Hernandez Jr.
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