The Dodgers have been rumored to be shopping Yasiel Puig for several years now, but have yet to move the enigmatic right fielder. For the record I have never been in favor of moving Puig, despite Oscar wanting to trade him for Giancarlo Stanton earlier this winter. Nevertheless according to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, the Dodgers approached the Red Sox about a Puig for Jackie Bradley Jr. deal during the earlier part of the offseason. The Red Sox refused and the talks went nowhere.
It’s an interesting idea. Both players are young and under team control. However Puig is making more money, nearly six million dollars more per year. Bradley does have an extra year of team control and perhaps that’s what attracted the Dodger’s front office to the Boston outfielder.
Even with the extra year of control, I still think Puig is more valuable. I know that Puig’s batting and on-base skills are not in the same stratosphere as they once were when he first broke in with the Dodgers in 2013, his overall offensive production is still heads and tails better than Bradley’s. The beantown centerfielder posted a .245/.323/.403 batting line in 2017 with 48 walks and 124 strikeouts in 541 plate appearances. That’s well below league average production. He took a big step back after having somewhat of a breakout year offensively in 2016 when he slashed .267/.349/.486 with 26 home runs and 87 runs batted in. His power numbers fell off in 2017 as he slugged 17 dingers and drove home 63 runs. Injuries did play a big part in that.
Puig however had a resurgence at the plate in 2017. He batted .263/.346/.487 with 28 home runs, and 74 runs driven in. His plate discipline improved as well. Puig drew 64 free passes and struck out 100 times. If you look at the two player’s OPS+ marks over the last three seasons, you’ll see that Puig and Bradley were actually a lot closer than you think in terms of overall production.
Bradley Jr. -53 home runs
Puig- 50 home runs
What makes Puig a little better offensively over Bradley is his higher on-base skills. Puig has a career .357 OBP to Bradley’s .318 clip. Puig is also a career .281 hitter in comparison to Bradley’s career .239 mark. But perhaps the best earmark of a good hitter is how he does with runners in scoring position. In that category Puig has Bradley beat as well.
Puig – .269/.362/.471 22 home runs 190 RBI
Bradley Jr. .251/.338/.463 15 home runs 164 RBI
But it’s not just their bats that stir this discussion, it’s also their gloves. Bradley is considered an elite defender, and Puig is also seen as one of the better defensive right fielders in the game despite being unrecognized. It’s difficult to compare the two on defense. The numbers would seem to considerably favor Puig in this section too. Puig saved the Dodgers 18 runs in 2017 according to defensive runs saved, and his total zone fielding runs above average was a +11. Meanwhile Bradley saved Boston 9 runs and his total zone fielding rating was a -3.
Here’s possibly the tiebreaker in Puig’s favor, his cannon arm. We’ve all seen it many times in action, but Puig has 39 career outfield assists. To be fair, Bradley has a strong arm too, He’s tallied 37 outfield assists over his career. Both men can play all three positions with ease.
Were the Dodgers trying to move Puig? Or perhaps they were attempting to acquire a cheaper cost controlled knockoff of the Wild Horse? Maybe it was just offseason chatter of a front office just doing their due diligence to explore possible deals. We’ll never know.
I’m glad this trade was never made. While the two men are comparable offensively and defensively, you have to give Puig the nod because of his slightly better power, on-base skills and throwing arm. It does tell us that the Dodger’s front office was thinking about moving him. I’m glad they didn’t…..for now. What say you?