The Dodgers placed Puig on trade waivers last month, and that in and of itself is not surprising. Pretty much every player is placed on trade waivers in August. Unlike most players though, Puig was actually claimed on trade waivers, and now we know the claiming team: the Brewers.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 2, 2016
Gosh, there’s a lot to unpack there. Two big name players with tarnished reputations, and two teams on different ends of the “contender” spectrum. August blockbusters are very rare, and this certainly would have qualified. Let’s break this rumor down.
Four teams passed on Puig.
Trade waivers cycle through each league in reverse order of the standings, so NL teams had a crack at Puig before AL teams. Since the Brewers won the claim, that tells us the Braves, Padres, Reds, and Diamondbacks did not place a claim. They didn’t want to risk getting stuck with Puig in case the Dodgers decided to let him go, however unlikely that may be.
The Brewers were ready to roll the dice.
At this point, it’s no secret Puig can be a bit of a headache. Things don’t seem to be as bad as they were a few years ago, but the Dodgers sent him to Triple-A not only to get his bat going, but also to get him out of the clubhouse. They considered that a net positive.
As a rebuilding team, the Brewers are focusing on raw talent, and they’ll deal with everything else later. They need to build a talent base first, and fewer offer as much raw ability as Puig. Bringing a player with a reputation for being a distraction into a young clubhouse can be dicey, but Milwaukee was not scared away. They were banking on their coaching staff getting Puig under control, so to speak.
The Dodgers want more offense.
Ryan Braun is not the hitter he was once, but he is still productive, and his right-handed bat would have no doubt helped the lefty-heavy Dodgers. They would have taken a big hit defensively though. Braun was never much of an outfielder and he’s not going to get any better defensively as approaches his mid-30s. That defensive hit was worth the offensive upgrade in the eyes of the Dodgers.
The Dodgers were open to another distraction.
Braun’s history with performance-enhancing drugs makes him an easy target for fans every time he plays on the road. The Dodgers, specifically manager Dave Roberts and the players, would have had to answer questions about having Braun on the roster as well. The fact the Dodgers were willing to swap Puig for Braun suggests they’re more willing to deal with PED questions than whatever problems Puig brought to the clubhouse.
What other players were involved?
This interests me the most. A straight one-for-one swap obviously wasn’t going to happen. Rosenthal’s report makes that clear. Who wanted more though? Did the Dodgers want more for the younger and cheaper Puig? Or did the Brewers want more for the more-productive Braun? There’s $80 million left on Braun’s contract after this season. That was surely an obstacle too.
Whenever a team claims a player on trade waivers, they have only 48 hours to finalize a trade. A blockbuster built around Puig and Braun is a complicated deal, and it’s no surprise the two clubs ran out of time to figure things out. This definitely sounds like the kind of trade that can be revisited in the offseason, when there’s no time limit. I suspect this is not the last time we’ll hear these two clubs are discussing a Puig trade.
Source: CBS Sports / The Dodgers and Brewers reportedly had Yasiel Puig for Ryan Braun trade talks