Posted on September 13, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
In recent days, news came to light that the in the days leading up to the August 31 waiver trade deadline, the Milwaukee Brewers claimed outfielder Yasiel Puig off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers. The teams discussed a trade that could have sent Puig to Milwaukee with Ryan Braun to Los Angeles.
We now know that the two teams were close to an agreement but ran out of time and could not complete the deal However, according to a report published Wednesday by USA Today, the Dodgers and the Brewers have plans to revisit those trade talks this winter, meaning a Puig-for-Braun swap is still a possibility, if not a likely occurrence, this offseason.
MLB executives with knowledge of the trade who spoke to USA TODAY under the condition of anonymity indicate that the proposed trade would have sent Braun to the Dodgers, with Puig, pitcher Brandon McCarthy and multiple prospects going to the Brewers. The Dodgers would have also picked up the remainder of Braun’s contract, which runs through 2020, with a $4 million buyout for 2021.
At the time of the proposed trade, Puig was in triple-A after being demoted in early August after Los Angeles acquired outfielder Josh Reddick at the non-waiver trade deadline. Meanwhile, McCarthy was on the DL, having made seven starts after returning from Tommy John surgery, only to be sent back to the DL with a hip problem.
Representatives from both teams were reportedly in discussion until the midnight deadline on August 31, but simply ran out of time. One executive says that a trade was 20 minutes from being completed, with the two sides working out all of the necessary details aside from the last prospect that would have been sent to the Brewers. Braun was even advised to stay in the clubhouse until midnight in case something happened.
A swap of Puig for Braun makes sense on a number of levels. After a few down seasons for Braun, during which he served a suspension for PEDs, he has re-established his trade value this season, hitting .310 and posting a .916 OPS. He’s also a Los Angeles native and would undoubtedly welcome going home, as the Dodgers are one of six teams not covered by his no-trade clause.
The Brewers would certainly like the idea of cashing in on him when his value is high, in addition to getting his contract off their books. The addition of Puig, McCarthy, and a couple of prospects could also accelerate Milwaukee’s current re-building process.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, appear intent, if not desperate, to free themselves of the enigmatic Puig. Los Angeles has been frustrated with his performance the past two seasons and have called into question his maturity and work ethic.
With a Puig for Braun swap making sense for all parties involved, it’s not hard to see why the two teams would re-visit the trade this winter. If the Dodgers and Brewers pick up talks where they left off, it would almost be surprising not to see a trade involving Puig and Braun completed. Of course, since the Brewers claimed Puig off waivers, the Dodgers did not have the chance to negotiate with any other teams that may be interested in Puig. If other teams join the conversation, it could alter negotiations between the Dodgers and Brewers, and so a Puig-Braun swap may not be a sure thing.
In the meantime, Braun is playing out the season on a team hoping to avoid a last-place finish, while Puig is 5 for 14 with three home runs since being re-called by the Dodgers when rosters expanded in September. With Los Angeles holding a four-game lead atop the NL West, the Dodgers appear to be headed for the postseason, but whether Puig will be on their playoff roster remains unclear. Of course, for both Braun and Puig, it may only be a matter of time until each get a change of scenery, as a trade between the Dodgers and Brewers is worth keeping an eye on this offseason.