Report: Former MLB All-Star Yasiel Puig Lands Contract with Kiwoom Heroes of KBO

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 9, 2021

Cleveland Indians' Yasiel Puig waits for an at-bat during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Former MLB outfielder Yasiel Puig signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Kiwoom Heroes of South Korea's KBO League.

The team announced the free-agent signing Thursday. The $1 million base salary is the maximum allowable for a first-year foreign player.

Puig last played in MLB during the 2019 season, which he split between Cincinnati and Cleveland.

Yasiel Puig @YasielPuig

Tomorrow I will make clear why I made this important decision. Right now, I want to enjoy the moment and congratulate <a href="https://twitter.com/lisettecarnet?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@lisettecarnet</a> … hahaha <a href="https://t.co/PubLLAvQ2s">pic.twitter.com/PubLLAvQ2s</a>

The 31-year-old Cuba native then played for El Aguila de Veracruz of the Mexican League. He compiled a .312 batting average, .926 OPS, 10 home runs and eight stolen bases in 62 games in 2021, and he was also voted the LMB Defender of the Year.

He's also played for the Toros in the Dominican Winter League each of the last two years.

Puig is best known for his six-year run with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013 through 2018, highlighted by an All-Star Game selection in 2014.

The slugger burst on to the scene with a .925 OPS, 19 homers and 11 steals during his rookie season with the Dodgers. He followed that up with a career-high 5.5 WAR in 2014 (via FanGraphs), but his numbers faded from that point forward.

Last December, Puig told David Venn of MLB.com he was working to become more receptive to coaches' suggestions as he sought a return to the majors:

"You've got to pay attention to the coaches. If they tell me to move to a certain area and the ball ends up being hit somewhere else, that's a problem with their statistics. They're the ones in charge.
"I didn't like to do it, because I'm the one in the game and I see if the batter is going to hit the ball here or not. If they decide [on the positioning], you've got to respect that. You've got to do what they say. I'm ready to play in the big leagues and leave behind the things that were bothersome."

That next MLB opportunity hasn't arisen, however, and with the league's lockout showing no signs of ending in the immediate future, Puig has decided to accept the contract to play for the Heroes for a chance to rebuild his value.

The 2022 KBO season is scheduled to begin April 2.