Yasiel Puig Announces COVID-19 Diagnosis; Reportedly Won't Sign Braves Contract

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2019, file photo, Cleveland Indians' Yasiel Puig watches his three-run double off of Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Cole Irvin during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Cleveland. The free agent outfielder and the Atlanta Braves have agreed to a one-year deal, a person with knowledge of the deal said Tuesday, July 14, 2020.  (AP Photo/Phil Long, File)
Phil Long/Associated Press

Yasiel Puig announced Friday that he tested positive for COVID-19:

Later on Friday, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Puig will not sign with the Atlanta Braves

According to multiple reports, the Braves were planning to sign Puig before the positive test.

Puig noted that he is asymptomatic and added that he feels "absolutely fine." The 29-year-old also said he will self-isolate until he receives two consecutive negative tests.

The Braves will now look for a different replacement for outfielder Nick Markakis, who opted out of the 2020 MLB season because of concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Puig had been set to enter his eighth MLB season after previous stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians.

He broke into MLB as a 22-year-old in 2013 and made an instant impact with a .319 batting average, 19 home runs and 42 RBI, resulting in a second-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.

The Cuba-born slugger was named an All-Star for the first and only time the following season as a member of the Dodgers thanks to his .296 average, 16 homers, 69 RBI and a career-high 92 runs.

Puig was traded from L.A. to Cincinnati prior to last season, and he went on to enjoy a productive season split between the Reds and Indians. Puig hit .267 with 24 homers and set career marks with 84 RBI and 19 stolen bases.

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While Puig is a remarkable talent with plenty of power and speed, his concentration lapses in the field and on the bases have held him back at times during his career.

Even so, Puig has proved to be a valuable player, especially during the postseason. In 58 career playoff games with the Dodgers, Puig hit .280 with five home runs and 23 RBI, and he helped lead L.A. to the World Series in both 2017 and 2018.

The MLB and MLBPA announced Friday that of the 10,548 samples they collected in their latest round of COVID-19 testing, six of them were new positives. Of those six, five were from players and one was from a staff member.

Puig joins a long list of notable players who have tested positive thus far, including Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Chicago White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada, Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu and Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Austin Meadows.

Freeman returned to the club Friday. But with Markakis opting out and Puig no longer signing, the Braves could have a hole in their outfield.

Atlanta does boast some solid outfield depth after Ronald Acuna Jr. and Marcell Ozuna in the form of Ender Inciarte, Adam Duvall and Austin Riley.

Perhaps the biggest loss when it comes to Puig is the elimination of a designated hitter option since both AL and NL teams will utilize a DH in all games this season.