Blue Jays: Rumoured interest in Yasiel Puig to upgrade the outfield

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 18: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after hitting a walk-off RBI single to deep right during the tenth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on September 18, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Tigers 2-1 in ten innings. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 18: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after hitting a walk-off RBI single to deep right during the tenth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on September 18, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Tigers 2-1 in ten innings. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays are still focused on the starting pitching market, but apparently have some level of interest in Yasiel Puig as well, who could help improve their outfield.

The vast majority of the off-season rumours that have been linked to the Toronto Blue Jays have surrounded starting pitchers. That’ll likely be the case until they sign one more starter, or the rest of the significant upgrades come off of the free agent market. However, the Blue Jays do have other roster needs as well, and it sounds like they’re quietly working on those too.

We’ve heard a few things floating around about a reunion with Edwin Encarnacion or possibly Justin Smoak, which could help the Blue Jays address the need at first base/designated hitter. However, they’re going to have to deal with their outfield picture at some point as well, and ideally they’d be able to bring in an upgrade over what they’re already looking at. From the sound of things, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

According to notable Twitter user @incarceratedbob, the Blue Jays continue to have interest in Hyun-Jin Ryu, which has been widely reported. However, he also mentions Yasiel Puig as a potential target for Ross Atkins and the front office as well, which is an interesting idea. Mr. Bob might not work for a major network, but those that follow him are aware of how often he seems to be in the know before things happen.

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Puig spent last season split between Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, and was a member of the Dodgers for six seasons before that. He had a bit of an up and down campaign in 2019, but he ended the year by slashing .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 30 doubles, 84 RBI, and 19 stolen bases in 555 at-bats across 149 games. It wasn’t his finest season, and it was a far cry from the 3.8 or 2.7 bWAR marks he posted in 2017 and 2018, but there’s a fair bit to like about the 29-year-old.

It’s always felt like Puig had plenty of untapped potential, and that’s likely what will intrigue the Blue Jays, or any other potential bidder for this services. That said, the market clearly hasn’t that great to him so far, and most of the outfielders on the free agent market are still waiting for their position to start sorting itself out and moving.

The rumour also mentions that the Blue Jays have interest in Puig “if the price tag stays low”, which actually makes sense in this case. He’s likely an upgrade over what they already have, but it’s possible that Teoscar Hernandez and/or Derek Fisher could match his production if he doesn’t bounce back, and do it a lot cheaper. Acquiring Puig would likely also mean that Randal Grichuk would become the full-time centre fielder, and in an ideal situation I think the Blue Jays would prefer to upgrade up the middle, rather than with a corner outfielder.

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We’ll see how much truth there is to the rumour, or how well Puig’s market develops over the coming days and/or weeks, but it’s good to hear the Blue Jays are exploring plenty of ways to improve the roster. Here’s hoping they can land that coveted started pitcher, and an outfielder like Puig would be a nice get as well.

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