The Brewers have had faith in a lot of their players over the years. Sometimes they’ve been justified in their faith, and sometimes they haven’t.
Other times, the Brewers lost faith and it turned out they lost faith too quickly and should’ve kept that player. But instead, they moved on and now David Stearns and the Front Office are wishing they hadn’t.
Here are three players the Milwaukee Brewers lost faith in too quickly:
1. Jesus Aguilar
Oh how nice it would be to still have Jesus Aguilar on this Brewers roster right now…
The Brewers claimed Jesus Aguilar off waivers from the Indians in 2017 and he carved out a role on the team as the primary pinch hitter and backup first baseman. He was set for a similar role in 2018 but after Eric Thames suffered an injury, Aguilar was given the starting job and he didn’t relinquish it the rest of the season, earning his first All-Star nod.
In 2019, both Aguilar and Thames were off to slow starts at the plate. They needed just one of them to get it going. Thames ended up getting going first and taking the starting job. Aguilar, being a backup again after being an All Star, was traded that summer to the Tampa Bay Rays for Jacob Faria.
Faria didn’t end up working out in Milwaukee and Thames struggled a little more once Aguilar was gone and he ended up not getting his contract option picked up. Thames became a free agent and signed with Washington while Aguilar went a little further south to Miami on waivers.
The Brewers went from two productive first basemen to none very quickly. The subsequent free agent signing of Justin Smoak didn’t work out, the addition of Daniel Vogelbach has provided something, but he’s not an everyday starter while the plan to put Keston Hiura at first has backfired to this point.
Since the trade, Aguilar has done nothing but hit. He hit .261 with a 105 OPS+ with Tampa Bay, and then has been even better with the Marlins. In 2020, Aguilar hit eight home runs with a .277 average and 118 OPS+. So far in 2021, Aguilar is hitting .264 with 12 homers, a league-leading 44 RBIs, and a 122 OPS+.
The Brewers are currently getting minimal production out of first base, with Hiura posting a .130 average with an OPS+ of just 21. League average is 100. Meanwhile Vogelbach is hitting .210 with an 84 OPS+.
The sting of trading Aguilar away might have been less if the return for him (Faria) turned into a productive piece or if they had been able to adequately replace him at first base. Neither of those things happened, and Aguilar has thrived since. So on top of losing a key clubhouse figure that brought tons of energy and fun to the team that was a fan favorite, the Brewers didn’t get a good return for him and haven’t been able to replace him either.
They gave up too quickly in 2019 and should’ve just stuck with him through the deadline. Perhaps they can try to get him back though.