Cincinnati Reds: Will Yasiel Puig stay beyond 2019?

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Four of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Four of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Yasiel Puig met the Cincinnati media on Wednesday. Will the slugger stay with the Cincinnati Reds beyond the 2019 season or is he bound for another team?

For the first time since becoming a member of the Cincinnati Reds, Yasiel Puig made his way to the Queen City. Puig was observed through social media at different parts of town throughout the day. He stopped in at City Hall, left a voicemail for Jeff Ruby, and met with kids at the Urban Youth Academy. Will Puig take up long-term residency in Cincinnati? Let’s explore that.

Puig, along with Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer were all brought to Cincinnati on December 21st of last year when the Reds made a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cincinnati shipped Homer Bailey out of town in the process.

One of the biggest negatives that several fans have with the trade was the short-term nature of the contracts that the Reds picked up. Puig, Wood, and Kemp are all on one-year deals. Bailey was in the final year of his disastrous deal, but the Reds sent prospects Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray to Los Angeles as well.

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The Cincinnati Reds are obviously taking a gamble by investing in three players that might not be here beyond the 2019 season. However, there is always the possibility that the Reds could re-sign one or all of the players they acquired from the Dodgers. That being said, it’s highly unlikely that the Reds would re-sign Kemp.

While it’d be nice for Cincinnati to re-sign Alex Wood to a multi-year deal, conventional wisdom would lead most fans to think that, at the very least, he’ll test free agency. So, that leaves us with Yasiel Puig. Do the Reds have a legitimate chance at re-signing the bat-flipping, flamboyant slugger from Cuba?

I think it’s a bit unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out either. Puig’s offensive stats are likely to get even better since he’s now playing half his games at Great American Ball Park, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in all of Major League Baseball. Last season, Puig launched 23 homers and racked up 63 RBIs. It’s not impossible to see that number look more like 38 home runs and 90-plus RBIs in 2019.

Puig said that he doesn’t care if he plays centerfield or right field, he just wants to play every day. That should get Reds fans excited, as Cincinnati has yet to find a true centerfielder for next year’s squad. Scott Schebler and Nick Senzel have been rumored to have the inside track, but it’s nice to hear that Puig is amenable to playing in centerfield if needed.

So, what might a long-term deal for Yasiel Puig look like? Well, last offseason, Lorenzo Cain signed a 5-year/$80M contract, Justin Upton signed a 5-year/ $106M, and Jay Bruce signed a 3-year/ $39M contract. While Puig’s numbers are better than that of Jay Bruce, it’s a little far-fetched to think he rivals Justin Upton.

Lorenzo Cain’s $16M AAV might be the most favorable comp when it comes to putting a value on Yasiel Puig’s next contract. Puig’s power numbers are better, but Cain has a better career on-base percentage and he’s a better defensive player than Puig.

Puig has a good relationship with Turner Ward, the Cincinnati Reds new hitting coach. Perhaps that relationship will be a big plus for the Reds should Puig entertain the idea of a return to Cincinnati after the upcoming season. Puig’s affinity for Ward is very well documented.

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Yasiel Puig, if nothing else, is going to bring an element of fun back to the ballpark. Reds fans would definitely like for the wins to follow, but just having fun will be a welcome change to what fans have had to endure for the past several years. Perhaps the fun that the fans and Puig are sure to have will result in him wanting to stay with the club beyond 2019.