Jesus Aguilar

General manager Kim Ng told the press that the Marlins had designated the first baseman Jesus Aguilar for assignment (Twitter link via Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald). In a corresponding move, All-Star catcher Garrett Cooper has been activated from the disabled list.

It is too late to make a deal for Aguilar, 32, so the Marlins will have to put him on waivers and hope another team picks him up. But it seems highly improbable in light of the $7.5MM guarantee on Aguilar’s 2022 contract.

Jesus Aguilar

despite his current struggles. Even though Aguilar has a mutual option for the 2023 season, teams are more likely to view him as a rental due to the rarity of mutual options being exercised.

In total, Aguilar has around $1.6MM in unpaid salary and bonuses, plus a $200K buyout on his option. Even if his slash line has improved since the All-Star break (.188/.246/.347), it’s hard to picture a competitive team paying $1.8 million to claim a player who is batting just.236/.286/.388 on the season. It’s quite likely that Aguilar will be released or refuse an outright assignment, allowing him to pass waivers and become a free agent.

After that point, Aguilar could sign a new deal with any MLB club, and that club would only owe him the league minimum salary for the portion of the season in which he actually appeared on an MLB roster.

Because he will have been released from the contract, the mutual option will no longer be a factor. If Aguilar is signed (or, much less likely, claimed) by another club before September 1, he will be eligible to play in the postseason for that team.

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At his current wage, no team is going to take a chance on Aguilar, but at the prorated league minimum, multiple teams would be interested in signing him. While Aguilar hasn’t been himself in 2022, he did provide Miami with.265/.336/.458 output in 726 plate appearances in 2020 and 2021, hitting 30 home runs and 33 doubles while striking out 18.3% of the time and walking 9.5% of the time.

At his peak, Aguilar is an above-average, daily slugger with 30-homer pop, and he doesn’t have a large platoon split. It’s clear that he hasn’t been performing anywhere near his potential this year. Aguilar’s strikeout rate in 2022 was his highest since 2018, and he also had his lowest average exit velocity (87.7 mph) and hard-hit rate (35.4%) of his career.

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Aguilar has been a competent defender at first base in the past, but he took a step back in 2022 when his numbers were -4 Defensive Runs Saved, -1.4 Ultimate Zone Rating, and 0 Outs Above Average. His primary positions are first base and DH, with a few brief appearances at third base in the past as a result of injuries (27 career innings, including five in 2022).

To salvage their season, teams in need of offensive support at first base or designated hitter, or even a right-handed bat off the bench, might give Aguilar a low-risk look if he clears waivers.

Lewin Diaz, who was previously considered one of the Marlins’ best prospects but whose stock has since plummeted, will get a longer look from the team for the remainder of the year. It’s likely that the aforementioned Cooper will also be playing more minutes.

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