Adding another outfielder may not be one of the Milwaukee Brewers’ top priorities this offseason, but taking advantage of another slow offseason and bringing in a veteran outfielder like Yasiel Puig could be an outside of the box move that would make a huge impact.
Yasiel Puig is hitting the free agent market for the first time and will be 29 on Opening Day 2020. The 2017-18 and 2018-19 offseasons were both extremely slow compared to years past and saw teams waiting to sign free agents later in the offseason.
This meant that, for the most part, teams signed players for cheaper contracts. This trend may continue into the 2019-20 offseason, which will surely hinder Yasiel Puig’s chances of getting a large contract.
Free Agent Comparison
AJ Pollock performed similarly as Puig in terms of WAR when he hit free agency. Pollock was two years older than Puig when he was a free agent, but has been much more consistent in his career. Pollock wanted a deal worth close to $80 million, but settled for a $60 million contract. In Pollock’s last three full seasons before free agency, he accumulated 12.8 WAR. Puig only accumulated 7.9 WAR in his last three full seasons before free agency.
Michael Brantley posted a 3.6 WAR in his final season before free agency, compared to Puig’s 1.4 WAR in his least season under contract. Last offseason, Brantley only received a $32 million contract. In fact, Bryce Harper was the only outfielder who received a contract larger than $100 million; which means that Puig is more likely than not to sign a contract that resembles Pollock’s or Brantley’s deal last winter. This should put Puig on the Milwaukee Brewers radar.
Does Puig fit on the Milwaukee Brewers Roster?
The Milwaukee Brewers need to address their starting pitching if they want to contend in 2020. But they have other roster holes that they need to fill to make the postseason for a third straight year. Bringing in a right handed hitting outfielder can add balance to their lineup and their outfield.
Yasiel Puig, known by Brewers fans for his many on the field and off the field issues and his three-run home run in Game 7 of the 2018 NLCS that put the nail in the Brewers’ coffin, is a free agent the Brewers should consider adding to their team.
Puig has been to the postseason six times as a player. That is the same amount of postseason appearances as the Brewers franchise has had since their inception in 1969. As a player, Puig has appeared in two World Series, and played in 58 postseason games, hitting .280 in those games. Even though he has struggled with of an average of .191 in the 12 World Series games he played, Puig still has hit three home runs and has eight RBIs in those World Series games.
Career Hitting vs. NL Central Rivals
In his career, Puig has hit extremely well against the Cubs and the Cardinals; marked by his .309 average and .868 OPS against the former and his .289 average and .904 OPS against the latter.
He hits even better in their home ballparks; with a .333 average and .989 OPS in 24 games at Wrigley Field and a .323 average and 1.131 OPS in 19 games at Busch Stadium. Puig is a career .306 hitter with an OPS of .965 in 15 games at Miller Park. He can expect to play 100 of the 162 games each year between Miller Park, Wrigley Field, and Busch Stadium.
Defensive Reasons to Sign Puig
Over his last two seasons, Christian Yelich has been the Brewers starting right fielder. Yelich has posted a defensive runs saved of 2 as a right fielder as a Brewer. Puig has a defensive runs saved of 6 as a right fielder in the past two seasons. Yelich only played 31 innings in left field in 2019, but he was able to post one defensive run saved in that time; where as he posted a -3 defensive runs saved in his 1061 innings as a right fielder in 2019.
Having an outfielder like Puig in right field and Yelich in left field will help the Brewers outfield defense and it puts one of the strongest arms in the game in right field for the Brewers.
Puig as a Teammate
Puig was able to win over his Indians teammates in a short amount of time after he was traded to the Indians from the Cincinnati Reds. He was respected for his work ethic and for the winning edge that he brought to the Indians. Puig’s experience in big games and his drive to win fits in with the Brewers current culture.
How well does Puig fit?
Yasiel Puig is the type of player that fits into the Milwaukee Brewers plans moving forward. Puig has hit at least 23 home runs and stolen 15 bases in each of the past three seasons. He brings a strong arm and good defense to a team that values defense. Lastly, his career number at Miller Park, Wrigley Field, and Busch Stadium makes Puig a player the Brewers should sign this offseason.
Adding Puig allows the Brewers to give Ryan Braun the days off that he needs in the last year of his contract. Assuming the Brewers keep Eric Thames, then Braun can be in the lineup when the Brewers hit against a left handed starter. Thames hit poorly against left handed pitchers in 2019.
Platooning Braun and Thames at first base should give Braun enough off days to hopefully be healthy come October. Lorenzo Cain would also benefit from having Puig in the outfield rotation, because Cain would not need to play through injuries as much as he did in 2019.
We know that David Stearns likes Puig, because he almost traded for him in 2016. Stearns should bring Puig to the Brewers because he has hit extremely well against the Cubs and the Cardinals; but most importantly Puig shows up in big moments and his ability to hit with the lights shine the brightest could be the move that puts the Brewers over the hump as they chase their first World Series title.
David Stearns and Craig Counsell used a four man outfield rotation in 2018 and this helped the Brewers win the NL Central. Stearns likes to think outside the box and bringing in Yasiel Puig can be the type of move that helps the Milwaukee Brewers win their franchise’s first World Series title.