MLB Free Agents 2021: Latest Rumors on Yasiel Puig, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2021

MLB Free Agents 2021: Latest Rumors on Yasiel Puig, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Major League Baseball may be locked out right now, but the rumor mill surrounding top free agents remains as hot as ever, thanks to prominent players still looking for homes.

    Both Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber are fielding offers from multiple suitors looking to bolster rosters ahead of championship chases.

    Then there is Yasiel Puig, whose Major League career ceased in 2019.

    The former MVP candidate will continue his quest back to the majors in Korea.

Yasiel Puig Signing with Kiwoom Heroes of KBO

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    At one point, Yasiel Puig was one of the buzziest players in baseball. Now, the former All-Star will continue his career in Japan, per Yonhap News' Jeeho Yoo and MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

    The former 2013 and 2014 MVP candidate will sign with the Korean Baseball Organization's Kiwoom Heroes.

    Puig has not played in the majors since 2019 when he split time between Cincinnati and Cleveland. Since then, he has competed in Mexico, where he is known as much for bench-clearing brawls as he is for his game. 

    He previously appeared to have had a deal in place with the Atlanta Braves in 2020, but a positive COVID-19 test brought those negotiations to a screeching halt, per Anthony Franco of

    In March, John Barr of reported MLB investigators had spoken to a woman who said in a lawsuit that the then-free-agent Puig had sexually assaulted her at a Los Angeles Lakers game in 2018 while he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

    Puig settled the lawsuit in October after denying the woman's allegations.

    He has 132 home runs, 415 RBIs and a batting average of .277 in his MLB career.

Kris Bryant-Chicago Reunion Should Not Be Ruled Out

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Robert Murray of The Baseball Insiders podcast reported, per sources in Chicago, that a reunion between free agent Kris Bryant and the Cubs should not be ruled out (h/t Jake Misener of Fansided for the transcription)

    "That is something I've been working on behind the scenes. I was told by somebody who would know Chicago: 'I would not rule it out.' And it's been on my mind ever since. I'm tracking that one …. I do think Kris Bryant going back to Chicago is a realistic scenario. And the number you threw out—27, 28 million bucks—makes a whole lotta sense."

    Earlier this month, Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston reported the Cubs had reached out to free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa. If that deal moves forward, it would essentially slam the door on any realistic possibility that Bryant heads back to the team he called home for seven-and-a-half years.

    If not, there is no reason to believe the Cubs wouldn't be looking at the star outfielder. Not only is he coming off a season that saw him belt in 25 home runs and 73 RBI, he is an adaptable player who can excel at multiple positions defensively.

    In Chicago in 2021, he was an outfielder, first and third baseman, shortstop, left- and right-fielder. Upon his move to San Francisco, he replicated that versatility, although he didn't appear shortstop. A player who can perform at any position and benefit his team positionally will always be coveted in free agency, so it is no surprise that he is among the top free agents still on the market.

    Then there is the sentimental element.

    Bryant was a key piece in the Cubs winning their first world title in 108 years in 2016 and erasing a 71-year Billy Goat curse.

Phillies Made "Big Push" to Sign Kyle Schwarber Prior to Lockout

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Phillies made a big push for free-agent slugger Kyle Schwarber just before the MLB lockout, per Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

    The team would presumably like to partner Schwarber's heavy bat with Bryce Harper in hopes of creating an offensive onslaught. The number of potential suitors, including Boston, figures to increase post-lockout as teams attempt to fill their rosters.

    That the collective bargaining agreement is likely to include designated hitters for the NL will make his services that much more attractive, driving his asking price up in the process.

    Schwarber became a hero in Boston following his grand slam home run in Game 3 of the ALCS against Houston—it was just the 75th in MLB postseason history.

    His heavy hitting (32 HR/71 RBI/.554 SLG) and solid defense (.985 fielding percentage) make him a valuable addition to any championship-ready roster.