When the Cincinnati Reds made the big trade this offseason with the Los Angeles Dodgers, they acquired three players on one-year contracts, along with Kyle Farmer who could be around in the Major Leagues for the next six seasons. Many speculated that it could be possible to extend one or more of the players in the right scenario. On Monday afternoon Yasiel Puig said that he would be open to it. For the right price, that is.
“If I can sign here, you say?” Puig said. “I don’t know. You been asking the GM if he wants to sign me? If he gives me the money I want, (and) I’m going to be here all the years he wants. I love Ohio. This is my color. I love red.”
The whole if he gives me the money I want part is key. We don’t know what that number is. And in the current free agent environment it’s honestly tough to know one way or the other. But let’s see what we can come up with, assuming we know nothing about how Yasiel Puig plays in 2019.
How valuable has Yasiel Puig been?
Right now, Yasiel Puig is 28-years-old. He’s in the prime of his career, in terms of what we know about when baseball players have their peak. That time, generally, for position players falls between ages 27 and 30. That would mean you’d probably be getting 2 more prime seasons before you would start to see a “decline” portion.
But let’s talk about what he has been worth to this point in his career. Fangraphs has a tool that provides a dollar amount for how much a player was worth in a given season. That amount is based on what teams have paid for 1 WAR in free agency – and that value changes with each offseason. In 2018, Yasiel Puig was worth $14.8M. The year before that he was worth $23.2M. Injuries kept him off of the field for a while in both 2015 and 2016, but he combined to be worth $20.5M in those two seasons. In 2014 he was worth $41.8M. And in his rookie season he was worth $29.2M.
The first two years of his career were the best two of his career. He’s been above-average since then, but hasn’t been an All-Star level player like he was those first two years. Still, to this point in his career, he’s been worth $130M in his career.
What would it take to sign Yasiel Puig?
The last two offseasons have changed how anyone has looked at free agency. Weird things have been happening, regardless of what the reason you believe is behind it. Contracts that players are getting simply aren’t what they were even three years ago. Justin Upton signed a 5-year deal with the Angels following the 2017 season. Sort of. He had previously signed a deal with Detroit, and the Angels acquired him mid-season of 2017. They offered him a new, upgraded contract. It ran from 2018 through 2022 and is worth $108M. Upton had a big 2017 season where he was worth $42M. But the year prior to that he was only worth $14.8M. Prior to that, for the 2013-2015 seasons he was worth between $26-28M per season.
He’s been a little better than Yasiel Puig has for his career. And his deal that was re-worked was signed before the weird offseasons of the last two years. But he was also a tad older, too. Upton is currently 3 years older than Puig is. That would seem to be the absolute high end, assuming a deal would be struck today. The downside seems to be something like what Andrew McCutchen got this past offseason. While he was older, he’s 32 right now, he’s also been quite a bit better in his career. He signed for 3-years and $50M with the Phillies earlier this offseason.
Using those two guys as sort of the top and bottom, we could be talking about four years and say $75M? That’s $18.75M a season, and would be more than any outfielder not named J.D. Martinez or Justin Upton has gotten in the last two offseasons. It’s a higher annual average value than any position player over the last two seasons aside from the outfielders mentioned above, or Josh Donaldson – who took a 1-year deal.
Is that enough to sign Yasiel Puig away from free agency? Is it too much for the Reds to pay? Who knows with how this market has been. For Puig, maybe he sees the way things have gone for other free agents and would leap at the deal. For the Reds, maybe they also see how things have played out and think that would be too rich and would try something lesser.