Cincinnati Reds: Tanner Roark pursuit opens door for Yasiel Puig reunion

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) /

The Cincinnati Reds have been looking for a bat to add to their lineup heading into 2020. Might the Reds look to reunite with outfielder Yasiel Puig?

The Cincinnati Reds showed a willingness to attempt to sign a player from last year’s roster on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t José Iglesias. It was pitcher Tanner Roark. According to Jon Heyman, an insider at MLB Network, the Reds were in on Roark before he signed with the Toronto. Does Cincinnati’s willingness to go after Roark open the door for a reunion with Yasiel Puig?

Yasiel Puig was a fan favorite throughout Reds Country last season. The mercurial outfielder got off to a slow start, but quickly turned things around. From June 1st until his trade to the Cleveland Indians, Puig slashed .290/.340/.568 with 12 home runs and 29 RBIs. Those numbers are eerily similar to the numbers that Nicholas Castellanos put up down the stretch with the Chicago Cubs.

Cincinnati has been linked to several outfielders on the open market. Marcell Ozuna, Nicholas Castellanos, and Kole Calhoun have all been mentioned as possible targets for the Cincinnati Reds. Puig has yet to see his name among those rumored to be on the Reds radar. However, that’s not a sign that Cincinnati is not interested, as Mike Moustakas‘ name wasn’t uttered until he’d agreed to a deal.

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When you put Yasiel Puig’s stats side by side with the other potential free agent outfielders on the Reds list, the numbers are fairly comparable. For his career, Puig is a .277 hitter with a .348 on-base percentage and 132 home runs. Ozuna’s career slash line is .272/.329/.455, while Castellanos is a career .277 batter with 120 home runs.

Puig is also a much better defender than Ozuna and Castellanos. Ozuna has a Gold Glove to his name and plays above-average defense for the most part, but also make boneheaded mistakes in the outfield. Castellanos, a converted third baseman, has -35 defensive runs saved during his time as a right fielder.

Tanner Roark’s deal with the Toronto Blue Jays would’ve been a hefty sum for a team looking for a No. 4 or No. 5 starter. Roark reportedly signed a two-year/$24M contract. However, Puig may not command the kind of contract that his production warrants. MLB Trade Rumors predicts Puig might only be able to land a one-year deal worth $8M.

While Castellanos and Ozuna are likely to sign a four or five-year contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $15M-plus, the Reds may be able to negotiate a deal with Yasiel Puig for close to half that amount. I’d say the chances are good Puig would sign a two-year/$17M deal to return to the Queen City.

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It appears evident the Reds are looking to add a power-hitting corner outfielder to next year’s roster. Perhaps Puig’s presence in the clubhouse is not the type of culture Cincinnati wants going forward, but there was a two-month period that saw Puig mashing everything in sight. Considering the contract he’s likely to receive, Yasiel Puig could be a valuable addition to the Reds.