In case you missed the news, the New York Mets outright released outfielder Cesar Puello a few days ago. He's missed almost the entire 2015 season with a back injury, playing in just one game in rookie ball in July. So far, he hasn't signed with another team.-
This would have seemed an extremely unlikely outcome back in 2013, when he hit .326/.403/.547 with 16 homers and 24 steals in Double-A as a 22-year-old. His physical tools had always been well-regarded, with an impressive power/speed mix, but problems with pitch recognition and over-aggressiveness slowed the skill growth to make those tools workable on the field. In the spring and early summer of 2013 it looked like he had solved that problem.
Alas, there was a wrench in the works, or rather an illegal substance: he was snared in the Biogenesis scandal and suspended that August. When he returned, his skills had mysteriously vanished: he hit just .252/.353/.393 in 318 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014. As noted he's missed virtually all of 2015 with a vaguely-described back injury, and now he's looking for work.
Question for the house: if you were running a team, would you sign Puello to a minor league contract? Factors to consider:
***The obvious: he wasn't very good, then he suddenly got REALLY good, then after getting caught in the scandal he went back to not being very good. Maybe he isn't any good without PEDs.
***The current injury: maybe the current back problem is serious.
***There were whispers about difficult makeup even before the Biogenesis issue.
***Although the skills are quite erratic, scouts recognized the physical tools both before and after Biogenesis; the speed in particular was not a PED illusion. He stole 13 bases in 14 attempts a midst an otherwise difficult season in 2014.
***Even after Biogenesis, he still showed greatly improved plate discipline: his 30/72 BB/K in post-PED 2014 was much better than the 7/58 he rang up in 2012 or the 18/103 he generated in 2011.
***He's still fairly young at age 24.
So, if you're a farm director, are you interested in signing Puello as a free agent or not? I will give my own answer in the comments thread.