Yasiel Puig looks like the top bat available on the trade market, and these five teams should be looking to get him.
The National League race is tight, with all but one team (the Miami Marlins) within eight games of a playoff spot. The Cincinnati Reds are 7.5 games back of the second Wild Card entering Thursday, so they’re probably on the fence of being a trade deadline buyer or seller. But according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required), outfielder Yasiel Puig is a “particularly strong candidate to be moved” by next Wednesday afternoon.
In a trade market saturated by pitching needs and rumors, Puig is arguably the top bat available. He’s headed for free agency after the season, so as the Reds have faded since the All-Star break he’s a top trade asset.
Puig had a rough start to the season, with a .192/.226/.354 slash-line (.580 OPS) through the end of April. But since June 1 he has a .318/.365/.630 slash-line (.995 OPS) with 12 home runs, 27 RBI, 10 doubles and 27 runs scored over 167 plate appearances. Narrowing in on his last 142 plate appearances (since June 12), he has an OPS of 1.081 over that span. In July, he’s hitting .353/.390/.629 (1.018 OPS_
Puig’s hot streak has extended for awhile now, bolstering the case for the Reds to find a way to sell high if they’re ready to concede they’re not a legit contender anymore. His defense is erratic at times, leading to advance metrics not being kind to him, but Puig’s cannon arm is an asset that almost automatically saves extra bases (and thus, effects runs).
If the Reds are truly motivated to move Puig, as they should be, these five teams belong on the list of suitors.
5. New York Yankees
Not that the Yankees need any lineup help, but Giancarlo Stanton is slowly recovering from a PCL strain in his knee as he continues to go through an injury-riddled season. No offense to Mike Tauchman or Brett Gardner, who has also been sidelined recently by a knee issue, but neither of them is particularly imposing in an otherwise formidable lineup that will now be without catcher Gary Sanchez (Grade 1 left groin strain) for a stretch.
The Yankees are far more likely to add a pitcher or two over the next several days. But they could make an aggressive move for a bat too, and Puig should be on their radar in that regard.