Yasiel Puig to Sign with the Atlanta Braves

It’s a brave new world for Yasiel Puig

The 29-year-old Cuban professional baseball player and free agent is signing with the Atlanta Braves, according to a report by MLB.com.

Yasiel Puig

The agreement comes after Braves outfielder Nick Markakis opted out of the 2020 season earlier this month.

An MLB All-Star in 2014, Puig batted .267 in 149 games last season with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians

He hit .297 with Cleveland after being acquired on July 30 and gave the Indians an infusion of power and energy, helping their ultimately fruitless surge to catch the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central title.

The boisterous right fielder was part of a wild fight between the Reds and Pirates mere hours before he was dealt to Cleveland as part of a three-team trade that sent right-hander Trevor Bauer from Cleveland to Cincinnati. 

Puig was suspended three games for his aggressive actions on what turned out to be his last day with the Reds.

Puig, who joined the Reds in a December 2018 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has a career batting average of .277. Perhaps his best overall offensive season was in 2017, when he batted .263 with a career-high 28 home runs and 74 RBIs.

The NL East champion Braves were facing a depth problem in their outfield even after they signed Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million deal in the offseason.

Markakis opted out of the season before summer camp. Ozuna or Adam Duvall could be needed as the designated hitter in the shortened 60-game season.

The team’s shortage of outfielders was highlighted when rookie Cristian Pache jammed his right ankle in Monday night’s intrasquad game and was not available Tuesday.

“We’re thin a little bit,” manager Brian Snitker said Tuesday. “We started this thing feeling really good about the depth, and we’ve used all of it already, as I think a lot of teams have. We’re stretched a little bit.”

If Ozuna is the primary designated hitter, Puig could join Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ender Inciarte in a starting outfield.

Puig, who has a .285 career average against right-handers, will be expected to replace Markakis’ production.

Puig, who defected from Cuba in 2012, was popular with Dodgers fans during his six years in L.A. for his colorful personality, home run trots and ability to throw runners out from right field. He made headlines away from the field when his Los Angeles home was burglarized multiple times.

At the ballpark, he was benched at times, and the team considered trading him long before it did because of his perceived lack of hustle or interest in following orders.

Yasiel Puig Officially Becomes U.S. Citizen

Yasiel Puig is officially an American…

The 28-year-old Cuban-born Cleveland Indians, who defected from Cuba in 2012, became an American citizen on Wednesday.

Yasiel Puig

Puig posted a photo on Twitterwith the message: “Thank you God for this great opportunity to be an American citizen.”

Puig’s journey to the United States was long, dangerous and complicated. A star on the Cuban national team, he made four attempts to defect from Cuba before being successfully transported out of the country by an alien-smuggling-and-boat-theft ring with links to the Mexican cartel Los Zetas. He subsequently faced death threats and extortion attempts as a result of his escape.

He went to Mexico first, because if he had gone directly to the U.S., he would have been subject to the Major League Baseball draft. Puig established residency in Mexico, allowing him to negotiate a lucrative free-agent contract. Puig signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in June 2012, a record for a Cuban defector. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in December 2018 and came over to the Indians as part of a three-team deal on July 31.

A career .277 hitter with 131 home runs and 398 RBIs over seven seasons, Puig has gotten off to a good start with the Indians, hitting .357 with a home run and six RBIs in 11 games. He is currently serving a three-game suspension for his part in a brawl when he was with Cincinnati.

Puig is the fourth member of the Indians to become an American citizen this year, joining Carlos SantanaOliver Perez and Hanley Ramirez,who was waived in April.

Yasiel Puig Makes Cleveland Indians Debut

Yasiel Puig is seeing red…

The 28-year-old Cuban professional baseball player was so eager to make his Cleveland Indians debut, he forgot to check out his footwear before walking around the clubhouse.

Yasiel Puig

The slugger was wearing Cincinnati Reds flip-flops with his Cleveland workout gear on Thursday, two days after being acquired from Cinci in a three-team trade that also included the San Diego Padres.

“My bad,” Puig said, laughing. “I came straight to see you guys. You’re not going to see that one again.”

While his footwear didn’t match, Puig’s hair was dyed the color of the Indians’ red jerseys.

Puig started in right field and hit cleanup for the series finale against the Houston Astros. He went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in a 7-1 loss.

Fellow newcomer Franmil Reyes batted sixth as the designated hitter and went 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout. The Indians are hoping the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Puig and the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Reyes can bring their much-needed power to a team that has closed the gap on the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins.

Reyes came over from the Padres in the seven-player swap that featured Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer going to Cincinnati and Reds elite prospect Taylor Trammell being sent to the San Diego Padres.

“With God giving me another opportunity, bringing me to Cleveland, I can make my dream come true with this team,” said Puig, who batted .252 with 22 home runs, 61 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 100 games with the Reds. “Keep going, make the playoffs again, fight in the playoffs.

“With Houston, the New York Yankees, no matter who’s coming, we’re going to fight and do the best we can like a family and like a team together and win the championship. This team has potential and good players to go to the World Series.”

In his final contest with Cincinnati, Puig was part of a wild brawl against the Pittsburgh Pirates that resulted in a three-game suspension. Puig learned of his trade shortly after being ejected; he is appealing his punishment, meaning he can play until there is a resolution.

Puig said it was difficult to conceal his happiness about joining a playoff contender while he was among his Reds teammates.

“I started laughing, but I didn’t want to get too excited, because I needed to respect my [former] team because we lost and were coming back from an altercation,” Puig said. “My friends said they needed to buy a new hat and a new jersey, but I said, OK, this is part of the job. We’re going to be in a better place.”

Free agent to-be Puig said he has been friends with Indians first baseman Carlos Santana and shortstop Francisco Lindor for several years. He was on an MLB-sponsored trip to Japan with Cleveland manager Terry Franconain 2014.

The Indians and Reds share a spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona, so he also is familiar with many other people within the Cleveland organization.

“Everybody is talking about Tito being an amazing manager and an amazing person, so I’m excited to be next to him and to start talking to him,” Puig said. “I’m feeling he can help me a lot in these next three months to be a better baseball player and a better person off the field.”

Reyes, who hit .255 with 27 homers and 46 RBIs in 99 games with San Diego, has a unique tie to the area. He met his wife, Marian, while playing in a Class A game for Fort Wayne at Lake County, whose ballpark is located in the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake.

The 24-year-old Reyes quickly became a fan favorite with the Padres, and he believes the same will be true in his new home.

“When I got the news, the first thing I told my wife was, ‘It’s crazy, we’re getting back to where we started,'” he said. “So Cleveland is really special for me. I know I’m going to have a lot of love from the city.”

Puig Hits First Home Run Since Being Recalled by the Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasiel Puig strikes back…

The 25-year-old Cuban baseball player hit a three-run homer in the third inning of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ come-from-behind, 7-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Yasiel Puig

Puig’s blast put the Dodgers ahead 3-2 in his second start since being recalled last week after a month-long demotion to the minors. It was his first homer since he returned to majors.

“The homer was great. It was a big hit for us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But the at-bat quality he had throughout the day, hitting the cutoff man, throwing to the right base, backing up — there’s a lot of things Yasiel did today to help us win a baseball game.”

In the Dodgers’ 4-2 loss to San Diego on Friday, Puig went 2-for-4. In his two stints with the Dodgers this season, Puig is hitting .265 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs.

“I’m very happy with the opportunity my teammates have given me, very thankful for their support, and it motivates me to do better on the field,” Puig told MLB.com after the game. “When you do your job, everything works out better — when you prepare, when you’re in the dugout. Those are the things I didn’t do before and now I’m doing them.”

The NL West-leading Dodgers took two of three from last-place San Diego, increasing their lead to three games over the San Francisco Giants, who lost to the Chicago Cubs 3-2 in 13 innings.

Puig Celebrates Dodgers Victory in Colorado By Crashing High School Prom

Yasiel Puig is a prom king…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a right fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, crashed a high school prom on Saturday night.

Yasiel Puig

After returning to his downtown Denver hotel following the Dodgers’ victory over the Colorado Rockies, Puig surprised attendees at the Chatfield Senior High School prom. He took photos with those attending the dance, posting some to his Twitter account.

One of the photos was with members of the Chatfield baseball team. The school is located near Littleton, Colorado.

Yasiel Puig at Denver Prom

In another photo, Puig posed with a large group of students. He tweeted the pic and a message in Spanish that translates to, “After we won, I came to surprise some students at their prom dance.”

Yasiel Puig at Denver Prom

The next morning, someone asked Puig before he went out for conditioning drills if he’d danced, and he said, “Yes,” with a sly smile.

Tomas to Join the Arizona Diamondbacks

Yasmany Tomas has 68-million reasons to love the Grand Canyon State…

The 24-year-old Cuban slugger has agreed to a six-year deal worth $68.5 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to a report by MLB.com.

Yasmany Tomas

The report, which cites industry sources, states that the deal is believed to include an opt-out clause after four years.

Tomas would become the latest Cuban star to sign a lucrative contract with a major league team, joining Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Aroldis Chapman.

Tomas, a corner outfielder, has spent a portion of the last seven years playing for the Havana Industriales. He batted .375 (6 for 16) for Cuba with two homers and five RBIs in last year’s World Baseball Classic.

In total dollars among Cuban players, Tomas’ deal would fall just short of the $72.5 million, seven-year contract agreed to in August between Castillo and the Boston Red Sox. The $11.42 million average would be just above Abreu’s $11.33 million average in the $68 million, six-year deal he agreed to with the Chicago White Sox in October 2011. Abreu went on to win AL Rookie of the Year.

Bautista to Captain the American League’s Home Run Derby Team

It’s batter up for José Bautista

The 33-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, a right fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays, will serve as the American League’s captain for the Home Run Derby.

José Bautista

Bautista, the 2010 and 2011 MLB home run champion and a five-time Major League Baseball All-Star, will have some star power on his team. He’s selected reigning derby champ and Oakland Athletics’ star Yoenis Cespedes, the Minnesota TwinsBrian Dozierand the Baltimore OriolesAdam Jones as the top three picks for his team.

They’ll face off a Nation League team that includes captain and Colorado Rockies star Troy Tulowitzki, and his top three picks: the Cincinnati RedsTodd Frazier, the Los Angeles DodgersYasiel Puig and the Miami MarlinsGiancarlo Stanton.

An additional fifth member will be named to each team on Thursday.

“Bunch of guys with a lot of power,” Tulowitzki said of his team. “More than that, I think they’re good guys, got to know them throughout the years.”

Stanton is the only player in the National League group that ranks in the top five in the majors in home runs with 21 entering play Tuesday night, but he is the NL-leader in the category.

That means that only one member of the remaining top five home run hitters in the league will be added to Bautista’s side. He has a choice of Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz (28), the Chicago White Sox‘s Jose Abreu (27) and Detroit TigersVictor Martinez (21).

Bautista’s Toronto teammate Edwin Encarnacion is third in the league with 26 home runs, but is currently on the disabled list. Martinez might also bow out of the running as he’s been held out of recent games due to injury.

Fellow Tiger Miguel Cabrera (14) and Los Angeles Angels phenom Mike Trout (20) have already said they will not participate in the contest, which will be held Monday night on ESPN from Minnesota’s Target Field.

Stanton, Tulowitzki (18) and Frazier (17) are all in the top five in homers in the National League along with the Chicago CubsAnthony Rizzo (18) and Philadelphia PhilliesMarlon Byrd (18).

Also a possibility for the final NL spot is Tulowitzki’s teammate and former Minnesota Twinsplayer Justin Morneau. Morneau is a candidate in the Final Vote to make the All-Star team.

“If he wins that final vote, there’s possibly a chance,” Tulowitzki said. “I think it would make a storyline. Played with the Twins all those years. He’s definitely on the list if he makes the team. There are some other guys as well that have lobbied and would be good choices.”

Puig’s Escape-to-the-United States Story Headed to Hollywood

Yasiel Puig’s escape to America is headed to the big screen…

Brett Ratner and his RatPac Entertainment have acquired the rights to Jesse Katz’ article Escape From Cuba: Yasiel Puig’s Untold Journey to the Dodgers, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Yasiel Puig

Ratner will produce the film adaptation of the Los Angeles Times article with Beau Flynn via his FlynnPictureCo. banner.

The article, which appeared in the newspaper earlier this, chronicles the 23-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Los Angeles Dodgers superstar’s repeated attempts to flee his native Cuba.

Puig finally succeeded when a wealthy but shady sponsor arranged for smugglers working for one of Mexico’s murderous drug cartels to pick Puig up in a speedboat and take him to the Yucatan Peninsula. But when his backer allegedly did not immediately pay the agreed-upon fee, the smugglers held Puig captive for almost three weeks.

His trek to America ultimately ended successfully with a lucrative deal with the Major League Baseball team – but the piece also highlighted the dangers other Cubans face when trying to find a better life in the U.S.

Puig played for the Cuban national baseball team in the 2008 World Junior Baseball Championship, winning a bronze medal. He defected from Cuba in 2012, and signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Dodgers. He made his MLB debut on June 3, 2013. In 2013, Puig hit .319 in 104 games with 19 home runs, and was selected by Baseball America to its annual All-Rookie team.

Arruebarrena Agrees to Five-Year Deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers

Erisbel Arruebarrena is being heralded as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ “shortstop of the future”…

The 23-year-old Cuban professional baseball star has signed a five-year-contract with the Dodgers.

Erisbel Arruebarrena

The deal will pay Arruebarrena $25 million, according to an ESPN source, which includes a reported $7.5 million signing bonus.

Arruebarrena remains in the Dominican Republic, trying to secure a visa to travel to Arizona to join the team’s spring training camp, and likely will begin the season in the minor leagues, but the Dodgers believe he’s full capable of being their shortstop of the future.

“We think he adds to our major-league club at some point this year, someone who can play shortstop at a high level,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said.

The Dodgers have begun discussions with shortstop Hanley Ramirez on a long-term contract extension, but Colletti said Ramirez is open to moving positions, likely to third base. Ramirez is a free agent at the end of the upcoming season.

The Dodgers hope Arruebarrena can improve his hitting with some time in the minor leagues. He batted .276 with 67 doubles, 27 home runs and 171 RBIs in 437 career games in the Cuban Serie Nacional. He was teammates with Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig.

“He brings another superb glove to our organization,” said the Dodgers’ top international scout, Bob Engle.

Uribe Signs New Two-Year Deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Uribe will remain a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers…

The 34-year-old Dominican professional baseball infielder has signed a two-year contract with the team he joined in 2011.

Juan Uribe

“Juan was a major player in our success last season,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti was quoted as saying Tuesday in a team press release. “His play at third base, leadership in the clubhouse and clutch hitting helped the club immensely.”

Uribe had a .278 batting average, 12 home runs and 50 RBI in 132 games for the Dodgers in the 2013 season.

He also took on the role of mentor for Cuban rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, who had a limited command of English during his first big-league season.

Uribe has a career .253 batting average.

Also Tuesday, the Dodgers announced the signing of right-handed relievers Jamey Wright and Chris Perez and southpaw J.P. Howell.

The Dodgers reached the 2013 postseason after making a big surge up the standings in the summer months, but the team was eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.