Cincinnati Reds: Yasiel Puig’s surge could decrease the odds of a trade

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 15: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 15: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Yasiel Puig has elevated his play recently. Does the recent surge increase or decrease the probability of the Cincinnati Reds trading away their right fielder?

The curious case of Yasiel Puig continues to baffle us. The Cincinnati Reds right fielder has been on a tear of late. While some fans may think that Puig’s recent surge increases his trade value as the July deadline approaches, I would argue that it increases the likelihood that the team hangs onto their enigmatic slugger.

The version of Yasiel Puig that we’ve seen over the last week is exactly who Reds Country and the front office thought they’d see from the first pitch of Opening Day. Over the last 7 games, Puig is slashing .393/.414/.679 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs. That 1.093 OPS will play all day long.

Even going back 15 games, you can see a marked improvement in the play of Yasiel Puig. Over that span, the Reds’ slugger has slashed .293/.339/.552 with 9 runs scored and 4 home runs. Something else we’ve seen more recently is a decrease in strikeouts. Puig has only whiffed in 2 of his last 20 at-bats.

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Coming into the season, Puig, along with Matt Kemp and Alex Wood were thought to be fantastic additions to a Reds team that needed some added pop and better starting pitching. Instead, Puig and Kemp struggled out of the gate and Wood has been on the injured list since the season began. Kemp has since been released and Wood is still a few weeks away.

The Cincinnati Reds area currently tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for dead-last in the NL Central. Sitting seven-plus games back of playoff contention with a rough schedule in front of them, the Reds could certainly make the decision in the coming weeks to become sellers at the trade deadline.

Cincinnati has several players who are in the final year of their current contract. Among them are the aforementioned Puig and Wood, as well as shortstop José Iglesias, relief pitcher David Hernández, and starter Tanner Roark.

The smart money would be on the Reds trading players that are unlikely to be re-signed this coming offseason and hang onto the players that the team would like to build around for the future. While some may disagree, I think Cincinnati is hopeful to keep Puig in the Queen City beyond just this season.

While Puig has not provided the level of offense that most fans had assumed they’d see this season, his recent surge says otherwise. That, combined with his speed on the base paths (Puig leads the Reds in steals with 9), and his stellar defense in right field, makes me think that the front office would like to keep Puig in a Reds uniform beyond just this season.

Now, what that type of deal would look like is anyone’s guess. Personally, I wouldn’t commit to a player like Puig beyond the 2021 season. Puig is 28-years old and a career .275 hitter. With the young outfield talent soon to reach the big leagues, it’d be foolish to block the likes of a Taylor Trammell, Jose Siri, or Mike Siani with a veteran outfielder.

However, since the Reds’ top minor league talent are at least a year-plus away from making their major league debut, I’d be perfectly comfortable riding with The Wild Horse into the 2020 season and beyond. The Reds have other players who are likely to fetch a bigger haul than Puig anyway.

Though he’s played well of late, Puig is still only hitting .231 on the season with 63 strikeouts and 13 walks. The Reds also gave up a fair amount of young talent to get Puig. Though Cincinnati rid themselves of Homer Bailey, the team also sent a couple of Top 20 prospects to the Dodgers.

While I wouldn’t refuse to take calls from other teams that may be interested in adding Yasiel Puig’s bat for a stretch run, I think the idea of getting rid of him for a mid-tier minor league player is ludicrous.

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Puig has endeared himself to the Cincinnati Reds fanbase, and while he hasn’t met the lofty expectations that were thrust upon him when the 2019 season began, his marked improvement over the last couple weeks should give fans hope for what he could bring to this franchise.