The Royals have had an active off-season, but may not be quite done yet as they look for bargains in the last weeks before spring training. With Dayton Moore said to be looking for another bat, Jim Bowden of The Athletic reports that the Royals are a possibility for free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig.
The 30-year old Cuban outfielder missed all of last year after testing positive for the coronavirus upon signing with the Braves. In 2019, he played for the Reds and Indians, hitting .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs and 19 steals in 149 games. Over seven Major League seasons, Puig has hit .277/.348/.475 with 132 home runs and 18.9 WAR.
Puig is not the left-handed bat the Royals have been seeking, but he does provide good pop and a decent on-base average. He also brings a lot of baggage. He can bring a joyful exuberance to the game, that may rub some the wrong way, but can also be a shot of energy a team needs. But he can also get carried away, making obscene gestures to fans after hitting a home run in 2017. He irritated Dodgers teammates with his showboating antics and lack of professionalism, getting into an altercation with pitcher Zack Greinke. He has been criticized for failing to hustle at times and he admits to not working hard in Los Angeles.
Puig was also investigated for an incident in a club with his sister in 2016, but MLB did not punish him. Last fall, he was accused of sexual assault where he was alleged to have forced a girl into a bathroom at a Lakers game in 2018, groping her while fondling himself.
Puig is a very talented player, but doesn’t fit much of what the Royals are looking for. He would likely block a young outfielder like Franchy Cordero or Khalil Lee, and he would be another right-handed bat to a very right-handed heavy lineup. His presence could be a distraction and a poor example for a young team trying to learn how to conduct themselves professionally at the big league level.
Puig has been linked to the Astros, Orioles, and Red Sox, in addition to the Yankees and Marlins.