Two of MLB’s most talented young outfielders are at the center of trade rumors with the 2016 trade deadline less than two weeks away. The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly open to dealing Yasiel Puig, while the New York Yankees covet Chicago Cubs’ left fielder Kyle Schwarber.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers are open to the idea of moving Puig, as L.A. looks to improve for yet another playoff run. The Chicago Cubs don’t plan on moving Schwarber, but the outfielder is done for the rest of 2016 with a torn ACL, and the Yankees have trade assets that can be key additions for Chicago’s World Series run.
While trading young bats with tons of potential might not seem to be the logical move, doing so could be what brings a championship to either Los Angeles or Chicago.
Puig burst onto the scene with the Dodgers in 2013, hitting .319 with 19 homers in 104 games as a rookie. But after posting strong numbers the following season, he’s been a disappointment. At just 25 years old, his last two seasons have been highlighted by injuries and decreasing production, which could soon spell an end to his days at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers may also receive some added help in right field when Andre Ethier returns from a fractured right tibia.
Puig has improved in 89 plate appearances since he returned from the disabled list, but even with an .831 OPS in that time, his OPS for the season is just .700. He has seven home runs and seven doubles for an outfield that has not lived up to expectations.
Despite his struggles, Puig could net the Dodgers a player that would help them in 2016. His age and contract—he’s owed just $14 million combined in 2017 and 2018—make him an attractive option for teams that are looking to unload veterans.
The Yankees have the kind of players that might draw the Dodgers’ attention. Carlos Beltran’s .887 slugging percentage makes him one of the best outfielders on the market, though his declining defensive skills aren’t an ideal fit in the National League. Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman are two of the best relievers in MLB, and either one would improve the Dodgers’ chances of catching the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
But it’s Schwarber that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has his eyes on, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Schwarber, whose season ended after just two games, hit 16 home runs in 69 games as a rookie in 2015, and a source tells Passan that Cashman believes the 23-year-old could hit 50 home runs playing in Yankee Stadium.
Chicago remains the betting favorite to win the World Series, but they’ve cooled off after a record start to the season. The Cubs have one of baseball’s best lineups, and the ERA of their starters is tops in all of MLB. But the bullpen is the one area in which the Cubs struggle, ranking 15th in MLB with a 3.82 ERA from their relievers.
Considering his future as a potential slugger for years to come, Schwarber isn’t likely to be dealt for Miller or Chapman, or even a package that would include both players. But since Schwarber can’t help the Cubs this season, sending him to New York for a reliever like Miller, who has 70 strikeouts in 41.1 innings, would be in Chicago’s best interest for the immediate future.
Instead, the Yankees could go after one of Chicago’s prized minor leaguers, but only once the team commits to being sellers. New York trails five teams in the race for the second AL wild-card spot, but a report last week stated that owner Hal Steinbrenner and team president Randy Levine are not ready to give up on making the postseason.
Cashman is reportedly ready to give up the team's top veterans, including Miller, Chapman, Beltran and Mark Teixeira.