Opening Day Is Almost Here—Where Is Yasiel Puig?

About four minutes after I leave home for a long trip, I start to worry that I’ve forgotten something. Maybe I’ve left the door unlocked, or forgotten to pack my laptop, or left my glasses on my nightstand; even if I’ve never actually done any of those things before, there’s a constant nagging fear that I’m without something essential, and I’ll be 1,000 miles from home before I realize it.

The 2020 MLB season must be furtively patting its pockets right now, because we’re just three and a half weeks from Opening Day and Yasiel Puig is still a free agent. It’s absurd that such a huge part of the baseball landscape remains unsigned, even if it’s been camouflaged by the weirdest offseason in a generation. All the more so because the kind of multimillion-dollar staring contest that became the norm in mid-2010s free agency all but disappeared this offseason; of the 45 players on my ranking of top free agents this winter, only Puig remains unemployed.

The history of baseball has always been an uneasy combination of homespun mythology and rigid empiricism; it’s a sport that proudly and routinely rounds numbers off to the one-thousandth, yet is propped up by…

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