Out of nowhere, the Braves quickly scooped up Yasiel Puig yesterday, pending a physical and COVID-19 testing. That’s usually how Alex Anthopoulos operates — like a snake in the grass — and the move makes too much sense after Nick Markakis decided to opt-out of the season.
For the most part, Braves Country is satisfied with the acquisition, viewing Puig as a low-risk, high-reward addition that could make the offense even more of a nightmare for opposing pitchers. However, a few minds are worried about the locker room presence he brings, and whether that will fit with the Braves, who have had such a cohesive group over the last two seasons.
While Puig’s had his fair share of teammates speak out against him — specifically in Los Angeles — nobody should be more familiar with the potential problems he may bring to a locker room than Alex Anthopoulos. Before becoming General Manager of the Braves in 2017, he was the Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Dodgers, right around the time Puig’s act began to sour in Los Angeles. Anthopoulos is well aware of the type of character he is bringing into the organization, and he wouldn’t take this risk if he thought Puig was that much of a locker room cancer.
From a baseball perspective, the Braves — more than just about anyone — are also aware of what they are getting. While Puig has been a bit of an underachiever based on what people thought he could be early in his career, Atlanta hasn’t been so lucky. In 29 starts against the Braves, he’s hit .327 with 6 homers and 17 RBIs — good for a .951 OPS. The only other National League team Puig has a higher OPS against is the Brewers at .979. Some would call that being a “Braves Killer,” and it should be comforting to know that type of power is now on our side.
The concerns surrounding Puig are fair, and he’s brought all of them on himself. However, nobody has ever accused the guy of not caring about the game or winning, which is probably why every team he’s played for over seven big-league seasons has won 90+ games. The Braves are full of lively personalities, from Ronald Acuña to Marcell Ozuna. Perhaps Puig fits right in perfectly. At the very least, it is going to be thrilling to watch.
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