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Yasiel Puig Demoted by Dodgers, Set to Be Assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 24:  Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced they demoted outfielder Yasiel Puig to the minor leagues on Aug. 2, and he is expected to be sent to their Triple-A affiliate, the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said Puig is expected to be in Triple-A by the weekend, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said L.A. made the demotion in order to improve Puig as a "player and person," per Gurnick

As of Friday, Puig has yet to report to Oklahoma City, though manager Bill Haselman said Puig is expected to join the team on the road in Iowa on Sunday, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports initially reported Puig "stormed off" after receiving the news on Aug. 1 that Los Angeles would either trade him or send him to the minor leagues. Rosenthal later spoke with the outfielder's agent, Adam Katz, who denied that ever happened:

I'm told he never went to the park. The club informed me and the player understood clearly that they were making every effort to trade him and that if they were unable to come to terms with another club on a trade — and successful in acquiring another outfielder — that he likely would be demoted.

Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times confirmed Puig didn't take the team's charter flight to Denver for a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies after the Dodgers acquired fellow outfielder Josh Reddick and starting pitcher Rich Hill from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for three pitching prospects.

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Reddick is expected to take over as the team's everyday right fielder. That left the 25-year-old former rookie sensation without a clear role heading into the stretch run.

Puig took the league by storm during his debut campaign in 2013. The Cuba native posted a .391 on-base percentage with 19 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 104 games. He backed it up with a rock-solid 2014 season, registering a .382 OBP, 16 homers and 11 steals.

His numbers have dropped off considerably over the last two years, though. His OPS, which checked in at .925 during that electrifying rookie year, has slid all the way down to .706 in 2016.

Now the question is what happens next.

The Dodgers could hope some time in the minor leagues, far away from the bright lights of Los Angeles, allows him to rediscover the form that made him an impact performer earlier in his career. If that happens, he could still be a major asset before season's end.

A trade is still a possibility, too. Jon Morosi of the MLB Network believes it's "very possible" the right fielder could pass through trade waivers, which would make him eligible to get dealt to any team.

Puig expressed his desire to remain with the Dodgers, but he acknowledged the situation is beyond his control, per Shaikin.

"If they decide to trade me, then I'll have to go to another team and work hard there. I just came to this country to play baseball," he said. "I would like to stay here. But I also understand this is a business. You never know where you are going to end up."

Puig's relationships with his teammates and the L.A. front office might have played a part in his demotion as well. 

Many problems have arisen throughout his tumultuous MLB tenure. He was benched for the 2014 season opener after arriving late to the stadium. 

As Molly Knight discussed in her book The Best Team Money Can Buyand confirmed by Yahoo Sports' Jeff PassanPuig "argued with pitcher Zack Greinke and nearly came to blows with infielder Justin Turner" when Puig wanted to bring a member of his entourage on a team charter flight that is typically for player wives and girlfriends.

One unnamed former Dodger told Bleacher Report's Scott Miller in December that Puig "is the worst person I've ever seen in this game. Ever." 

There's time for Puig to get back on track before what are typically a player's peak seasons, but he has to show a willingness to change his work ethic. It could make him an intriguing buy-low candidate for a non-contending team if he does end up clearing waivers.

The Dodgers may wait to see what some time in the minors does for him first. He's still full of talent, but it hasn't translated into much on-field production this season.

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