What could the Cleveland Indians pay for return of Yasiel Puig?

The Cleveland Indians need outfield help, so what’s a reasonable price tag for Yasiel Puig, who’s still available on the free-agent market?

Outfield remains a conglomeration of “What ifs” for the Cleveland Indians heading into the 2020 season.

There’s a bunch of scenarios that could work, but the whole thing could be a disaster, as well, which is why the return of Yasiel Puig shouldn’t be ruled out, especially with outfielder still looking for work.

MLB.com’s Mandy Bell wrote that if Puig’s asking price drops to the $6-$8 million range, then the Tribe would be in play to return the Cuban native to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

Why is it something the Indians should consider? Realistically, the Indians have 1.5 outfielders to start the season. But what about that conglomeration comment? Sure, Terry Francona seemingly has about 50 guys who COULD play in the grass this summer, but who can he really count on?

This is what we know is true: Oscar Mercado will start in center and Jordan Luplow will be in right field when a left-hander takes the mount for the opposing team. That’s it.

Franmil Reyes will the opportunity to prove he’s just not a DH, and will likely get plenty of looks in right field during Spring Training. If can play there, at least some of the time, perhaps Bobby Bradley or Jake Bauers can some of those DH at-bats.

Daniel Johnson, acquired in the trade for Yan Gomes, hits righties well, but the Indians have a history of not promoting prospects to start the season when it’s still cold in Cleveland.

Meanwhile Greg Allen seems best suited as a fourth outfielder, while oft-injured Bradley Zimmer is trying to prove he belongs in the big leagues. There’s Delino Deshields Jr., too, who’s played most of his career in center. If he’s in center, if will have mean Mercado is suffering through a sophomore slump.

Tyler Naquin would be an ideal platoon partner to match with Luplow because he’s batting .285 with a  .790 OPS for his career against right-handers. He’s out until July or August, though, after suffering an ACL injury last season.

Adding Puig, who can hit lefties and righties, would solidify the position group for the time being. His power vanished after he left the friendly confines of Great American Ballpark, which is why he’s probably still available. With a 101 wRC+, he’s slightly better than average at the plate.

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As 2020 draws closer, the Tribe’s payroll is projected to be embarrassingly low ($82.8 million). If Puig’s price tag drops, you would think the Tribe could make a play.


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