Report: Braves to sign outfielder Yasiel Puig

The Reds’ Yasiel Puig rounds the bases on his way to scoring the winning run in the 11th inning against the Brewers on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
The Reds’ Yasiel Puig rounds the bases on his way to scoring the winning run in the 11th inning against the Brewers on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

The Braves will sign free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The team has not confirmed the signing, which has been reported by multiple media outlets.

Puig, 29, was considered the best free agent available. He’ll replace Nick Markakis, who decided against playing this season, adding another bat to the outfield mix.

After six seasons with the Dodgers, Puig split last season between Cincinnati and Cleveland. He hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs across 149 games in 2019. Puig also stole 19 bases.

When asked about Puig during his media briefing Tuesday afternoon, Braves manager Brian Snitker said he did not know anything about a deal with Puig.

The deal is said to be contingent upon Puig completing his physical.

With Markakis out and Freddie Freeman potentially missing the start of the season because he tested positive for COVID-19, the Braves were even thinner against right-handed pitching. Puig has slashed .285/.350/.495 against righties in his career.

The signing would further deepen the team’s outfield. The Braves would have Ronald Acuna, Marcell Ozuna, Ender Inciarte, Adam Duvall and Puig as options. Austin Riley can also handle left-field duties if needed, but he’ll log most of his time at third and first base.

Top prospect Cristian Pache, who’s approaching his MLB debut, hurt his ankle during Monday’s intrasquad game. The ankle was still sore Tuesday, and the Braves will give him the next couple of days off.

As for certainties in the outfield, Acuna will play every day. Ozuna, who signed a one-year, $18 million deal over the winter, will play every day, though the Braves could use him as their designated hitter on a more regular basis given that he’s the weakest defender of the group.

Duvall is more effective against lefties, and before signing Ozuna, the Braves planned to platoon him with Markakis. Certainly, adding Puig lessens the blow of losing Markakis’ production against righties.

Overall, the Braves possess a strong outfield rotation, however they decide to use it.

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos was in the Dodgers front office for two seasons before joining the Braves, thus developing familiarity with Puig, whose visible passion and energy hasn’t always been embraced.

Puig had a quiet market, reportedly drawing recent interest from the Marlins and Orioles. With the Braves, Puig will have the opportunity to increase his value during the 60-game season - on what he hopes is a winning team - and perhaps re-enter the market next winter.

If the Braves do sign Puig, it would cap off an offseason in which the club acquired several former All-Stars, including starter Cole Hamels, reliever Will Smith, Ozuna and Puig.