How close were the Dodgers to trading Yasiel Puig in August?
Maybe closer than it seemed at first.
According to a report on MLB.com, the Dodgers and Brewers discussed a trade that would have sent Puig to Milwaukee up until the final minute of the Aug. 31 deadline.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com previously reported that the Brewers won the waiver claim on Puig. That’s hardly a surprise. Several teams were reported to have claimed the outfielder on waivers, but only the team with the worst record at the time would have been able to negotiate a trade with the Dodgers. An Aug. 30 loss dropped Milwaukee’s record to 56-76, better than only four MLB teams.
The size and scope of a trade can shift dramatically over the course of negotiations. You never know what this one would have looked like if the Dodgers and Brewers had enough time to consummate a deal, or if they could have agreed on terms at all. For what it’s worth, at one point this trade would have sent both Puig and pitcher Brandon McCarthy to Milwaukee, reports Adam McCalvy:
According to a source, one scenario would have netted the Brewers Puig and two prospects along with pitcher Brandon McCarthy, whose departing contract would have helped offset the Dodgers’ luxury tax hit for adding Braun. The source said Braun remained at Miller Park with some teammates after the Brewers’ Aug. 31 game against the Pirates while the Brewers and Dodgers continued talks up to 11:59 p.m. ET — a minute before the Trade Deadline to acquire players and have them eligible for the postseason. In the end, they simply ran out of time.
A few things to keep in mind:
1. If the Dodgers’ front office really wanted to get rid of Puig, it could have soldiered through the deadline to complete a trade. The only cost, of course, is that Braun would not have been eligible to play in the postseason this year. Braun, 32, has four guaranteed seasons and $76 million remaining on his contract, so not having him available in October 2016 is a potentially small cost in the grand scheme of things. The Dodgers just didn’t want to move Puig that badly.
2. The apparent willingness to include McCarthy in a trade is telling. The Dodgers’ starting pitching depth chart for spring training of 2017 looks something like this:
That’s saying nothing of Rich Hill, whom the Dodgers reportedly would like to re-sign; Scott Kazmir, who might or might not opt out of his three-year contract after this season; and Brett Anderson, who also becomes a free agent in October.
This chart was deeper in July, before Andrew Friedman packaged right-hander Jharel Cotton to the Oakland A’s for Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick. Thinking ahead, maybe a list that only runs 10-deep on MLB experience isn’t enough for a team that has used 15 different pitchers to start a game each of the last two seasons. Yet as Urias and De Leon take on larger roles, it makes sense for the Dodgers to explore trades involving their veteran starters — particularly if Kazmir chooses not to opt out and they’re able to re-sign Hill.
3. Trades completed at or around the time of the Winter Meetings often come with some precedent. If nothing else, maybe the Dodgers and Brewers laid the foundation for a future deal. Maybe it doesn’t involve Puig or McCarthy. Maybe Milwaukee grew attached to the two unnamed prospects and pushes harder for them in the off-season.
Or, maybe all of this amounts to a September rumor and nothing more. That happens a lot too. What else are we going to talk about today, the Rams?
Update (1 p.m.): Citing unnamed front-office sources, USA Today reports that a trade involving Puig, Braun and McCarthy was “about 20 minutes” away from completion and “officials vowed to revisit the talks again this winter.”
From Bob Nightengale’s piece:
The deal was so close, with just one last prospect being negotiated, that Braun was advised to stay around until the deadline expired. Several of his teammates even stayed with him in the clubhouse, prepared to say their goodbyes.