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Dodgers put rest of MLB on notice with Yasiel Puig signing

Jun 28, 2012, 11:18 AM EDT

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Don Mattingly AP

21-year-old Yasiel Puig didn’t receive the same kind of hype as Yoenis Cespedes after defecting from Cuba. He did receive the same kind of money, though, mostly thanks to the new Dodgers ownership’s desire to flex its financial muscle.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Dodgers signed Puig to a deal worth $42 million over seven years. It’s twice what most expected him to get and $6 million more than Cespedes received from the A’s this spring.

Puig is an interesting talent. In his second and final season in Cuba, he hit .330/.430/.581 with 17 homers and a 39/49 K/BB ratio in 327 at-bats. And he did that at age 19, which is pretty exceptional even given the high offensive levels in Cuba. He’s also said to have excellent speed.

Still, the Dodgers would seem to be taking a huge risk here. Puig didn’t play last year. He hit a modest .276/.371/.425 in his first season in Cuba. For all of his supposed speed, he was used primarily as a corner outfielder and he wasn’t much of a basestealer in Cuba, going 13-for-19 in his two seasons. There isn’t much in the way of scouting reports on him — unlike Cespedes, he never saw much action against international competition — but Baseball America doesn’t seem very impressed.

But then again, maybe huge risk is the wrong term. For the White Sox or Cubs — two teams that were considered quite interested in Puig — it certainly would be. The Dodgers, though, are flush with cash and can afford to roll the dice, even at such a lofty price. In a best-case scenario, their Puig-Matt KempAndre Ethier outfield is the best in the NL come 2014. It’s also quite possible Puig flounders in the minors and proves to be a fourth or fifth outfielder. One thing that seems clear is that he’s going to need time; given that he hasn’t played in a year and a half and he doesn’t have all that much experience anyway, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll make an impact in the majors before mid-2013 at the earliest.

And that’s what’s really scary; this is pretty much the baseball equivalent of a Vegas trip. One person might set themselves a $250 gambling limit for the weekend, another $1,000. The Dodgers, on the other hand, can afford to gamble with $40 million right now, a concept that should have free-agent-to-be Cole Hamels awfully excited.

  1. Ben - Jun 28, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    They put MLB on notice that they can spend like a drunken sailor, with all the discretion therein?

    • beavertonsteve - Jun 28, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      I suppose even a drunken sailor gets lucky once in a while.

      • foreverchipper10 - Jun 29, 2012 at 9:53 AM

        Thar she blows!

  2. Tim OShenko - Jun 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Sounds like the second coming of Tsuyoshi Nishioka to me.

  3. redguy12588 - Jun 28, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    So the Dodgers can spend $42m on an iffy Cuban prospect, but the Pirates can’t spend more than $3.8M on their first round draft pick, and if they do, they lose picks next year.


    • davidpom50 - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:15 PM

      International signings took a much bigger hit than draft signings. Just doesn’t go into effect until next week.

  4. SmackSaw - Jun 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Yankees of the NL.

    • spellingcops - Jun 28, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      Without the rings to show for it.

  5. steveohho - Jun 28, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Perhaps the Angels’ 2011 off season acquisitions have also put some pressure on the Dodgers to spend more money on players?

  6. timpaz - Jun 28, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    This is a lot of money for this guy, Dodgers overspent, better hope he works out.

    • obpedmypants - Jun 29, 2012 at 8:22 AM

      nah. if the owners have no problem spending $500mm too much to buy the team, they shouldn’t have any problem throwing away $20mm here and there.

  7. bchapman2011 - Jun 28, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    As a life long Dodger fan I had mixed emotions with the sale of the team to the new ownership group. Frank Mcourt was no prize but what most people fail to realize is that because of the cash constraints imposed on the Dogers the last several years it actually helped the team. Instead of blowing big money on free agents that would be in decline in several years the team was forced to go bargain shopping for players that would fit a specific role and that presented good value. Now I fear thet LA is going to go out and be stupid like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels giving away ridiculous contracts to over the hill superstars. Hopefully they won’t make these mistakes and will build the team the right way.

  8. gq2scoops - Jun 29, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    Also as a lifelong Dodger fan…I can’t tell you how happy and scared I am at the same time with this new ownership…Happy that they’re going to spend the money McCourt didn’t want to and couldn’t later on because of legal battles…Scared because of deals like this and like giving an extension that size to Eithier…Happy because the Dodgers should be in the running for names like Hamels, Greinke, and Hamilton this offseason…Scared because even with staying a float the last couple of years, not adding huge names and contracts, not dealing away big prospects for big names…How come every single prospects list thats out there, how come there are zero Dodgers on them??? What the hell happened to our scouting and player development???

  9. wj4122 - Jun 29, 2012 at 3:16 AM

    Even with frank the dodgers over spent and made terrible signings. Jones…Schmidt to name a few. Everyone is forgetting who is in charge. Kasten is not a foolish man and he will not just throw away money. They will load up on pitching becouse that’s what he likes to do. But damn they need some consistent offense from a big bat. I don’t think it should be Hamilton though for the price he will be asking for.

  10. obpedmypants - Jun 29, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    is this a poem?

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