PHOENIX — Yasiel Puig won’t be on the Dodgers’ opening-day roster.
The 22-year-old Cuban defector, who leads the Cactus League with a .526 average, was optioned to double-A Chattanooga on Tuesday.
The move was bound to happen at some point.
The Dodgers want Puig to play every day, and that wasn’t going to happen in the major leagues with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford in their outfield.
Perhaps more important, the move probably will delay Puig’s entry into the free-agent market by an entire year. If Puig spends 20 or more days in the minor leagues this year, the earliest he could become a free agent would be after the 2019 season.
Even though he failed to make the major league club, this will be remembered as the spring of Puig.
But Puig’s spring numbers – he also hit three home runs, drove in 11 runs and stole four bases – told only part of the story.