In a hunt for proven MLB bats, the Oakland Athletics reportedly picked up first baseman Jesús Aguilar on a one-year deal. It’s a relatively smart play for the A’s team that has nothing lose in adding a slugger who has cracked the 30 home run marker in the past. As for Aguilar, it offers yet another opportunity for the 32-year-old to get his career back on track.
A Look at Aguilar
New Athletics first baseman Jesús Aguilar possesses a number of valuable tools. While not a particularly agile defender at first, Aguilar’s best assets are at the plate. Aguilar has good pop, but the main issue with the 32-year-old has been inconsistency.
The former Guardians prospect broke out in 2018 as a member of the Brewers, as he hit .274/.352/.539 with 35 home runs, 60 extra base hits, and 108 RBIs. That campaign earned Aguilar an All-Star appearance and a top-20 finish in the NL MVP vote. The next season, Aguilar hit just 12 home runs and 24 extra base hits between Milwaukee and Tampa Bay.
Aguilar put together two nice seasons after he joined the Miami Marlins in 2020, including a 22 home run, 93 RBI campaign in 2021. But yet again, the ex-Marlin struggled in 2022. Aguilar hit just .236/.286/.388 with Miami before being released in August.
It was a frustrating season for a somewhat aggressive slugger who recorded a career-worst Chase% rate (36.3%), despite showing good discipline in prior seasons. For 2023, Aguilar will look to get back on the road for an A’s team that should be able to offer him plenty of playing time.
What it Means
Just from looking at the state of the A’s in 2023, a veteran bat like Aguilar makes sense for a variety of reasons. After a series of trades and departures since the end of 2021, the Athletics sported the league’s worst team OBP (.281). SLG (.346), and wOBA (.277) last season. While Aguilar may not be able to replicate the stats of former A’s infielder Matt Olson, the 32-year-old has been adept throughout his career at driving balls thanks to above-average power and strength.
Given the current alignment of the Athletics roster, it’s very fair to expect Aguilar — a potential trade chip should the 32-year-old find his pre-2022 stride — to fit in the middle of the lineup alongside Seth Brown and Ramon Laureano as a 1B/DH. Although, a fringe defender in Aguilar shouldn’t displace Brown — who led all A’s hitters in home runs last season — often at first. But speaking of Brown, his future could get murkier in the coming months.
Although he’s not eligible to be a free agent until of the 2026 season, Brown is arguably the team’s best trading asset given his left-handed pop and controllability. If the A’s want to accumulate more pieces for its farm system, Brown could be a nice piece for several competitive teams.
One last note on the Aguilar signing; with the former Marlin and Orioles now in Oakland, it’s fair to expect to see less of Dermis Garcia. The former Yankees prospect possesses plus power and bat speed, but very little aside from that. The 25-year-old Garcia hit just .207/.264/.388 with five home runs and 11 extra base hits over 125 plate appearances last season. But, Garcia also struck out 55 times in that span. Garcia’s 44.0% K% ranked as the second-worst rate between July 12 — his MLB debut — and the last day of the season. Only Kole Calhoun (45.1%) of the Texas Rangers sported a higher strikeout rate in the span.