Yasiel Puig has reportedly been claimed on waivers by an unknown team, per John Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the Dodgers will trade the outfielder.
As is the case with the vast majority of players in August, Puig was placed on revocable waivers. If a player goes unclaimed, he is free to be traded. If claimed, a club can simply let that player go, try to work out a trade with the claiming team, or pull the player back off waivers, which means the player cannot be traded until the offseason.
The Dodgers’ desire to trade Puig hasn’t exactly been a secret. When the club couldn’t work out a deal for Puig before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, they optioned him to the minors.
Puig has done well with Triple-A Oklahoma City, hitting .369/.414/.631 with four home runs in 18 games, but his demotion had much more to do with his work ethic than anything.
In a weekend interview with Marly Rivera of ESPN, Puig talked about his time in Triple-A and previous transgressions:
"I keep hitting. I'm behaving. I'm doing the work I have to do," Puig said. "What I did wrong before and I have been doing better the last two or three weeks that I've been here. [Being called up] does not depend on me. All I can do is try to improve what I did wrong, the things that got me sent me here. The rest does not depend on me, that's [a decision for] the GM, the president. Only God knows where I will end up."
Puig said that adapting to the rules of a major league clubhouse since his breakout season in 2013 contributed to his struggles both on and off the field.
"It is the same rules whether [you're] in Cuba or in the U.S.," Puig said. "If you don't train, if you don't respect your coaches, whether you are amateur or professional, you will have the same problems."
In the majors this season, Puig has hit .260/.320/.386 with seven home runs and 10 doubles in 81 games.
Puig, 25, still has two years and $14 million remaining on his contract, and he can opt into salary arbitration if eligible (though it is highly unlikely he would beat his $6.5 million 2017 salary through arbitration). Puig won’t be a free agent until after the 2019 season.
While Puig might be traded now, to the team that reportedly claimed him, that seems unlikely if only because of the market. The Dodgers could wait until the offseason and in theory negotiate with 29 other teams regarding Puig, trying to create a bidding market. Trading Puig now involves negotiating with just one team.
In other words, expect Puig to stick around, at least in the organization — whether he is called up in September is another story — through the end of 2016, unless the Dodgers truly just want to be rid of him.