Milwaukee Brewers fans have gotten to know Jesus Aguilar over the course of 2017 as he put together a great first season with the Crew. But could Aguilar’s time in Milwaukee be over?
Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns claimed Jesus Aguilar off waivers from Cleveland in Spring Training this year. Thought originally to just be a body to put in at first base when Eric Thames was done for the day, Aguilar just wouldn’t stop mashing, hitting .452/.521/.855 with seven homers, four doubles, 19 RBIs and nine walks during the spring.
Aguilar forced his way on to the Opening Day roster. Fans even thought Aguilar could take over first base if Eric Thames got off to a slow start. But as everyone knows, Eric Thames had anything but a cold start to the season. When Thames did start to cool off, Jesus Aguilar got a lot more playing time. Being a first baseman only, it was tough for him to get playing time on a team where versatility is a priority.
Jesus Aguilar never got much of a chance in the big leagues prior to this season. Over three seasons in Cleveland, Aguilar had 58 total at bats with ten hits, 21 strikeouts, and no homers. But with Milwaukee, he hit .265/.331/.505 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs in 279 at bats. He’s more than just a home run hitter. He can draw walks and hit for a decent average.
Extend that over 600 at bats and Aguilar turns into a 30-35 homer guy. That’s a pretty valuable bat for Major League teams. The Milwaukee Brewers would love a 30-35 homer guy in their lineup at first base. Oh wait, they already have one.
Although Eric Thames struggled during the middle of the season, he still finished 2017 with 31 homers. He also has that guaranteed contract for the next two years. There’s a chance Aguilar could platoon with Thames, but in the event Craig Counsell doesn’t go that way, Aguilar will ride the bench again. Will the Brewers want to hold on to a 27-year old Jesus Aguilar for another two years to be mostly a pinch hitter and occasional fill in at first base? Probably not.
Why deal Aguilar?
As good as Aguilar was all season, Brewers fans will want him to stay. But his value won’t get much higher than it is right now. If there’s a team looking for a cheap first base option that has power, they may call David Stearns. Thames won’t go anywhere and Aguilar is blocked by him.
If the Brewers choose to keep Aguilar and he has a drop off in production, his value goes down. It’s better to trade a guy a year too early than a year too late. Aguilar truly has the potential to hit 30-35 homers a season and Stearns can sell teams on that based on his first year of production.
The Milwaukee Brewers made a mistake by not cashing in on Junior Guerra‘s breakout season by trading him last winter. Guerra missed the first six weeks after he injured his calf on Opening Day and was sent to the Minors at the end of July. The Brewers are stuck with him and won’t get any value in return. Stearns will not want to make that same mistake again.
Jesus Aguilar and the Milwaukee Brewers had a mutually beneficial relationship, but it has served its purpose. The Brewers gave Aguilar an opportunity to prove he belonged in the Majors and to his credit, he did. He put in a good season and now Stearns can turn a waiver claim into a successful trade that brings back even more talent to Milwaukee.
This Brewers roster is going to look different come Opening Day in 2018. At this point last year few Brewers fans even knew who Jesus Aguilar was. Aguilar made his mark in Milwaukee, but his time in a Brewers uniform could be over.