Major League Baseball free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig said Friday he has tested positive for COVID-19, likely scuttling a deal with the Atlanta Braves, with Pittsburgh outfielder Gregory Polanco testing positive as well.
Puig, who helped the Los Angeles Dodgers reach the 2017 and 2018 World Series, defected from Cuba in 2012 and signed a seven-year deal with the Dodgers. He played last year for the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians and also became a US citizen in 2019.
“Although I tested positive, I am asymptomatic and I feel absolutely fine,” Puig said in a statement. “I will be quarantined until I receive two negative test results, which I hope will arrive shortly.
“I am sad this has happened but I believe that everything is in God’s timing and that my return to MLB will happen.”
Puig, 29, reportedly was being eyed as an Atlanta Braves replacement for Nick Markakis, who opted out of the upcoming season due to the coronavirus pandemic that delayed the start of the campaign from March.
“I would never have believed looking into the mirror that I have COVID-19,” Puig said. “I urge everyone to take this pandemic seriously, this can happen to anyone, even the healthiest athlete.”
Puig has a career .277 batting average with 132 home runs and 435 runs batted in over seven seasons.
Polanco gave the Pittsburgh Pirates permission to announce his positive test, with manager Derek Shelton saying the 28-year-old Dominican might return in time for next Friday’s opener at St. Louis.
Polanco has not worked out with the Pirates for the past four days, staying from the ballpark to avoid exposing teammates to the virus.
Shelton said the team has not decided whether or not to put Polanco on the COVID-19 injured list. If so, teh club will need to find a rightfielder and part-time designated hitter.
Polanco has played for the Pirates since 2014, batting .253 with 78 home runs and 304 runs batted in plus 80 stolen bases.