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Trading for Yasiel Puig

*A note. A trade processed by the Dodgers just following completion of this article obviously limits the Dodgers need for starting pitching but the guts of this piece remain unaffected.

Audacity.

The Shapiro/Antonetti brain trust has shown significant audacity over the past half decade, be it pushing the chips in for 2 1/2 seasons of Ubaldo Jimenez or stretching their payroll flexibility to sign Michael Bourn to what was, at the time, an under market four-year, forty-eight million dollar deal.

Of course, one can criticize the outcome of the Bourn signing, but the process and the reasoning behind the deal had a validity. The Indians perceived a hole in the marketplace and attacked.

Now, for but a brief moment, a 24-year old, cost controlled, impact outfielder is available, and offers an asset sure to improve a portion of the Indians' deficiencies.

Puig has posted two 4+ WAR seasons as a 24-year old, he has what will be 20 home run power, outstanding plate discipline, above average speed and defends right a little better than average, with an arm that is not adequately described when called "cannon-like".

Indeed, if the only value one gains from reading this is an appreciation for Puig's mythologically conceived arm, I am content.


One could hang the laundry on proverbial ropes such as these, let the aesthetic beauty consume your mind, if only just for a moment.


Yet, Puig does many things with similar brilliance. In his age 22 and 23-year old seasons, Puig posted OPS' of .925 and .863. This youth and production, while eclipsed by the historical greatness of Trout and Harper, makes Puig one of a handful of the most promising players of the next decade.

Consider further the incredible cost efficiency of Puig's contract: 2015 $4.5 million, 2016 $5.5 million, 2017 $6.5 million and $7.5 million in 2018. After 2018, Puig becomes arbitration eligible for one season creating 4.5 years of control. This offers significant surplus value to the team that owns him, and ultimately, for a team with limited financial flexibility like the Indians, offers even more value.

With bot production, age and contract, Puig being on the market appears to be shockingly foolish. But Puig has struggled in 2015 and carries some question marks in terms of character.

Puig has multiple reckless driving charges, which in terms of character concerns. sounds pretty light. There have been other issues with Puig on the diamond, including a lot of discussion about whether he plays the game "the right way". 

Most of the criticism regards Puig showing too much emotion and not "respecting the game," a term which often is more reflective of playing the game the "white way" than the right way.

Puig was raised playing in front of raucous crowds in Cuba, and plays the game with a certain panache, a certain swagger that makes traditionalists uncomfortable. 

Now, Puig may have makeup issues as any semi-reckless 24-year old has, but they are overplayed because of the way he plays the game, rather than clear demonstrable issues.

Moving beyond to acquiring Puig and how he would fit into the long term puzzle, there are a few pieces.

First, Puig would become the everyday right fielder, upgrading the position defensively and displacing Moss/Raburn to the role of a DH platoon.

This then makes Moss a more fungible asset that could be flipped as a part in a separate deal. Obviously this does not address center field, but it does lock down RF for 4 years and a Ramsey/Naquin platoon can cover center until Zimmer arrrives.

A projected lineup could look as follows:

Kipnis
Lindor
Brantley
Puig
Santana
Gomes
Moss/Raburn
Urshela
Naquin/Ramsey

One can make alterations as they deem necessary, but this lineup immediately looks significantly deeper with the addition of just Puig.

As for the cost, it would be significant. According to contract and front office guru Dave Cameron, Yasiel Puig is the 28th best asset in baseball, which demands a huge a return. The deal would be built around Carrasco (#39 in the same trade value rankings) and Puig. With the Indians likely including a second level piece, a la Jose Ramirez, Erik Gonzalez or perhaps more, such as a Justus Sheffield-type.

The Indians would be trading 5.5 years of Carrasco (Last two years are options at $9 million a piece) for 4.5 years of Puig. Though Carrasco options are relatively cheap, Puig and Carrasco are at two different ends of the aging curve.

I will, as should always be noted with aging curves, state that these are not laws but rather trends and their can indeed be outliers. However, as a 28-year old, Carrasco is currently near the tail end of the peak for starting pitchers and his 2019 and 2020 options will be for his age 32 and 33 seasons which are hugely unpredictable and on the significant downside for most starting pitchers.

What is more, pitchers carry significantly more injury risk.

Whereas, Puig is entering the position player peak and would be controlled through his peak for a cheap cost.

The attrition rate of starting pitchers and the realities of aging curves curbs some of the value of Carrasco's contract length advantage.

Lastly, Puig simply has more sample space as in all star caliber player.

All of this is not to downplay Carrasco's value as an asset, as his value is immense but merely to balance his value against Puigs'.

This deal obviously has its imperfection, weakening an elite rotation to add an elite position player is not necessarily perfect. However, position players offer lower injury risk as well as the Indians rotation would still boast a front three of Kluber, Salazar and Bauer which is outstanding.

Dealing for Puig would be risky, it would be audacious but what fun is the trade deadline if you can't contemplate audacity.
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