The Wild Horse: Rays need to pursue Yasiel Puig in free agency
By Austin Reimann
With Avisail Garcia’s departure the Tampa Bay Rays lost a great deal of power from the right side of the plate. Signing Yasiel Puig could bring a tremendous boost to their lineup.
When Avisail Garcia walked into free agency this offseason, so did his 20 homers leaving a void that the Tampa Bay Rays would be ill-advised to ignore. With Avi and Travis d’Arnaud off of the roster, the Rays are left with Tommy Pham and Yandy Diaz as the only true power threats form the right side of the plate. Yes, Willy Adames has the ability to hit 20 bombs and Mike Zunino could also contribute 15-20, but the Rays could use another thumper in the middle of their lineup similar to Avisail Garcia.
Yasiel Puig could be that guy in 2020 and possibly beyond for the Rays. Puig, who is coming off of a 24 homer season in 2019 has hit 75 bombs over the course of the last three seasons and has 132 career bombs to his name.
Entering only his age 29 season, the Rays could float the idea of a two-year deal to Puig’s camp. MLB Trade Rumors projected him to sign a 1 year deal worth 8M with the Tigers this offseason, but it would seem as though Puig, a postseason veteran with a flare for the dramatics, would be inclined to sign with a contender.
While there are concerns about his maturity, his exciting demeanor and aforementioned flare for the dramatics could be a nice fit in a young and exciting clubhouse poised for a return to October in 2020.
Puig broke in with the Dodgers in 2013 and 2019 marked his seventh season in the majors. His career numbers are solid and he could bring similar production to that of Tommy Pham.
- 861 G
- .823 OPS // 122 OPS+
- 132 HR // 415 RBI
- 79 SB
In fact, his 2019 numbers were relatively similar to Tommy Pham’s and it goes without saying just how important of a role Pham played in 2019.
Puig’s 2019 vs Pham’s 2019:
- 149 G // 145 G
- .267/.327/.458 // .273/.369/.450
- 24 HR // 25 HR
- 84 RBI // 68 RBI
- 19 SB // 25 SB
- .785 OPS // .818 OPS
- 21.3 K% // 18.8 K%
- 10.1 BB% // 12.4 BB%
If the Rays could snag Puig for something similar to the 1/8M deal that MLBTR projected, it would be a steal. Puig could DH and play in the OF just like Avisail Garcia did in 2019 and the production that Puig could bring the table would make 8M look like a bargain.
He would also offer an insurance policy if Pham, KK, or Meadows go down with an injury. Puig has the ability to play the corner outfield positions and if KK gets hurt (again), Pham or Meadows could slide over to center.
What’s more is his lengthy postseason resume that would also be a welcome addition on a relatively inexperienced Rays roster.
Puig’s Playoff Numbers:
- 58 G
- .780 OPS
- 5 HR // 23 RBI
It’s time to bring the Wild Horse to Tampa Bay. The best Rays teams had an edge about them and Puig brings just that, an edge (Remember Coco Crisp vs James Shields)… Just take a look:
He plays with an emotion and fire that every team should want on their roster. When you compile his career numbers, including his 2019 campaign, his playoff resume, and the edge and competitiveness that Yasiel Puig brings to the table, he would be a perfect fit in Tampa Bay next season.
Get it done Neander, bring the Wild Horse to the Trop!