This afternoon’s trade fucking deadline came and went without Yasiel Puig switching teams, despite his Los Angeles Dodgers acquiring Josh Reddick. However, something much stranger happened. For a few hours, it was unclear whether Puig was still on the Dodgers, on his way to the minors, or on the lam after storming off of a team flight.
Earlier this evening, Ken Rosenthal reported that Puig was told he’d either be traded or sent to the minors, and so he “stormed off” from the stadium and did not board the team plane. Neither the Dodgers nor Puig’s reps commented on, confirmed, or denied Rosenthal’s report for a few hours, so it was widely assumed that Puig had angrily absconded from a team flight:
Puig, 25, stormed off after arriving at Dodger Stadium and being informed that he would either be traded or sent to the minors, according to major-league sources.
He was not traded before the non-waiver deadline at 4 p.m. ET, but the team’s immediate plan for him is unclear.
Club officials declined comment.
Other Dodgers reporters confirmed that Puig was not on the plane. However, the Los Angeles Times’s Andy McCullough and Yahoo’s Tim Brown each contradicted Rosenthal’s report that he had left in a huff. Turns out, he was never at Dodger Stadium in the first place.
Puig’s agent Adam Katz then informed Rosenthal that Puig was not at the stadium at all, and Rosenthal updated his story with Katz’s statement:
“I’m told he was not at the park. The club informed me and the player understood clearly that they were making every effort to trade him and that if they were unable to come to terms with another club on a trade - and successful in acquiring another outfielder - that he likely would be demoted. My understanding is that transaction will happen tomorrow.”
There you have it. After a few hours of confusing reports flying around, all this amounted to was a fairly simple, if inexplicable, transaction. Why the parties involved didn’t quickly respond to the report that Puig had angrily left the team is less clear.
The Dodgers, for their part, seem entirely fed up with Puig, and could easily deal him in August via a waiver trade. Puig has hit .308 with an OPS of .830 since he returned to the team from the disabled list, and yet the Dodgers have apparently made their minds up about him. Puig has a big salary, so he’d be somewhat difficult to deal, but he’s a productive player at worst and an MVP candidate if he’s healthy and focused. Whether the Dodgers wanted to make themselves seem more sympathetic by not initially commenting on Rosenthal’s original report or just couldn’t be bothered to is unclear, just like most everything else in this clusterfuck, but the fundamental facts remain the same here.
This is the order of the day as the trade deadline comes: teams and agents try to get ahead of one another, often through the media. This Puig rumor is of the same stripe as any widely-reported trade or deal that eventually falls apart; it just seems spicier because it involves Puig and the Dodgers. These are two known antagonists, one of whom absolutely would storm off if told he was being demoted to the minors. The only questions here are why it got around that he actually did, and why the Dodgers would want to send down a guy who at his worst remains a useful player who’s helping them far more than he’s hurting.