Puig Mania has overrun the Cincinnati Reds fan base. Yasiel Puig seems amenable to an extension with the ball club, but should the Reds even consider it?
Yasiel Puig was asked yesterday about signing a long-term deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Puig sounded very upbeat about the possibility, provided the Reds met his contract demands next offseason when he becomes a free agent. The idea sounds fun and intriguing, but is it the right move for the Reds?
First, let me just say that I loved the trade that Cincinnati made in December to bring Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer to the Reds. I think, entering the offseason, that a lot of fans were questioning how the team was going to approach the Homer Bailey situation. To come out of it with two quality outfielders, a starting pitcher, and a utility player was a fabulous deal for the Cincinnati Reds.
Now, onto the notion of extending Yasiel Puig. This entire idea came about after Puig was asked about re-signing with the Reds while discussing how important it was for him to have a big year in 2019 with free agency just around the corner next offseason. Here was what the slugger said via Reds.com:
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"“I don’t know. You can ask the GM if he wants to sign me. If he signs, gives me the money, I will be here as many years as he wants. I love Ohio. This is my color. I love red.”"
Classic Puig, right? The guy just seems like a fun-loving player who’s ready to get out onto the field and prove people wrong. Remember, the Dodgers essentially gave up on Puig by trading him. He struggled last season versus left-handed hitters, and Los Angeles’ manager Dave Roberts sat Puig on several occasions due to his lack of hitting against lefties. For a player like Puig, who’s had success on the biggest stage, that had to be a bit irritating. Here’s more from Reds.com:
"“When I have opportunities like I had in the playoffs to face lefties last year, I can hit lefties and I can hit righties. But from the bench, you can’t hit nobody. Then in the seventh inning, he wants you to be the hero. And you can’t be the hero because from the beginning, he doesn’t trust you to have a good game that day.”"
Was Roberts right to sit Puig when the matchup wasn’t favorable? Perhaps. If Puig shows the same propensity to struggle against lefties while in Cincinnati, will new manager David Bell utilize a similar strategy? Perhaps. Scott Schebler is capable of playing right field and slashed .296/.333/.456 against lefties last season, while Puig slashed .209/.268/.360.
Now, back to the idea of extending Yasiel Puig beyond the 2019 season. Can we pump the brakes just a little bit? The guy hasn’t even played a Spring Training game and some folks are ready to crown him as the National League batting champ. I’m excited about Puig playing in Great American Ball Park too, but if the organization is hesitant to sign Scooter Gennett to a long-term deal, why in the world should they extend Puig?
The same argument that folks use to dismiss the idea of extending Scooter Gennett could be used for Yasiel Puig. Gennett is 28-years-old and so is Puig. Gennett actually has produced better over the last two seasons than Puig. Scooter is batting .303 with 50 home runs and 189 RBIs. Puig is hitting .264 with 51 homers and 137 RBIs.
One of the biggest arguments against signing Gennett to a long-term extension has been the development of the Reds’ No. 1 prospect Nick Senzel, who plays the same position as Scooter. Well, Taylor Trammell, soon to be the team’s top prospect plays in the outfield. He may be more of a left fielder, but are you going to bump Jesse Winker out of the starting lineup?
There’s the bigger issue of long-term contracts. How many big, long-term deals have we even seen signed this offseason? Heck, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, two of the best players in the game today, are still unsigned.
Signing Yasiel Puig to a contract extension this offseason is certainly a possibility, but let’s see how he performs before we anoint him as the next big thing in Cincinnati. I’m very excited about his arrival in the Queen City and can’t wait for Opening Day, but let’s revisit this question later this year once we’ve had a chance to see what Puig looks like in red. At least he loves the color, right?