Potential Trade Packages and Landing Spots for Reds Star Yasiel Puig
After a frigid start in 2019, Yasiel Puig is heating up.
He hit .207 in April and .245 in May. Yet, over the past 15 games, the Cuban slugger owns a .333 average and 1.188 OPS.
He hit seven home runs in June and has 18 on the season. He's also stolen 13 bases overall, putting him roughly on pace for a 35-25 campaign.
Puig plays for a Cincinnati Reds club that's buried in last place in the National League Central, and he is in a contract year. He's an obvious trade candidate as the July 31 deadline approaches.
With that in mind, let's examine five plausible suitors for the slugger and the prospects they might surrender for his services.
New York Yankees
This one is a long shot, but it's not impossible.
The New York Yankees are without the services of Giancarlo Stanton, who has suffered a series of maladies this season and is likely out until August at the soonest with a knee injury.
They have Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks as well as veteran Brett Gardner. Demoted youngster Clint Frazier is an option, but the 24-year-old is generating ample trade buzz.
New York could flip Frazier for needed starting pitching and then turn around and acquire Puig. They should be able to keep their top prospects and instead surrender a lesser-rated but high-upside MiLB arm such as righty Clarke Schmidt.
The 23-year-old has struck out 43 in 38.1 innings between the rookie leagues and High-A and boasts a solid sinking fastball and an emerging curveball and slider.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are in a dogfight with the Yankees in the American League East, with the Boston Red Sox nipping at their heels.
They're mostly set in the outfield with Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier and Austin Meadows from left to right and Avisail Garcia in the designated hitter/outfield mix.
That said, the Rays rank 18th with a .750 OPS. Puig could raise that figure, rotate around the outfield and take hacks at DH.
To land him, Tampa Bay could part with switch-hitting shortstop Lucius Fox, who has struggled in stretches at Double-A but boasts the offensive and defensive tools to be a starter at the highest level.
The Oakland Athletics are in position for an American League wild-card slot. They're coming off a 97-win season.
That said, none of the outfielders at the top their depth chart has an OPS above .755.
Oakland isn't typically in the business of giving away prospects. But the team has a shot to get back to the postseason, and Puig's bat would undeniably aid the cause.
Righty Daulton Jefferies, who has fanned 58 in 52 innings between High-A and Double-A as he returns from Tommy John surgery, could entice Cincinnati.
Andrew McCutchen is lost for the season to a knee injury, and the Philadelphia Phillies could use depth in the outfield.
Obviously, the Phils shouldn't make this move merely to get attention. But as they chase the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and jostle in the Senior Circuit wild-card race, they'd benefit from his thump and swagger.
In exchange, Philadelphia could offer 19-year-old right-hander Francisco Morales, who has fanned 83 in 55 innings at High-A.
The Cleveland Indians are trailing the Minnesota Twins by seven games in the AL Central entering play Wednesday but have a shot at a wild-card spot. However, they need to bolster a power-deprived outfield.
Middle infield prospect Tyler Freeman has a .299 average and .812 OPS between Single-A and High-A. The 20-year-old could man the keystone sack for the Tribe next to shortstop Francisco Lindor in the not-too-distant future.
If the Indians intend to contend in 2019, though, they'd benefit from Puig's thump to upgrade an offense that ranks 21st with a .722 OPS.
All statistics current as of Wednesday and courtesy of Baseball Reference.