Yasiel Puig could remain a MLB free agent for as long as he remains under a cloud of suspicion stemming from a sexual assault complaint filed nearly two years after the alleged incident, according to ESPN.
MLB interviewed the woman earlier this offseason, but the investigation is progressing slowly due to her desire to remain anonymous and the wait for further evidence to emerge in the lawsuit. She alleges Puig pinned her down in a Staples Center bathroom, groped her and masturbated in front of her in October 2018.
The allegation and potential “headache” is at least one reason why Puig, 30, remains a free agent, a front-office source told ESPN. Puig denied the allegations and has not been charged with a crime. No police report was filed.
Puig’s new agent, Rachel Luba, declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by The Athletic, but she added, “He’s just looking for an opportunity to play and to be back in the game and remind baseball what he brings to it. I believe baseball is better with Puig in it. And he wants to prove himself again, because it’s been a bit since he’s been out there.”
The former Dodgers phenom last played for the Indians in 2019, after his agreement with the Braves last season fell apart after he contracted COVID-19. Several teams reportedly have been connected to Puig throughout the offseason, but he remains working out on his own near Miami, according to videos on his social media accounts.
Puig’s attorneys filed a motion asking the court to throw out the lawsuit, claiming the “reputational damage” will “threaten his future opportunities as he is currently a Major League Baseball free agent seeking a contract,” according to The Athletic.
In her lawsuit filed in October 2020 and obtained by The Athletic, the woman said she had not met Puig until that night at a Lakers game. Now she suffers from paranoia and fear.
“Every part of her life from the moment she wakes up is tainted,” the complaint states.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred can suspend players for acts of sexual assault, and the allegations are part of a broader offseason where the league is under the microscope for multiple allegations of mistreating females.
The Mets fired general manager Jared Porter after it was revealed that he sent sexually explicit text messages to a female reporter, and Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway is suspended for similar alleged behavior, including when he was the Mets manager.