The Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly added the power right-handed bat they’ve been seeking all season. According to ESPN, the Rays have acquired first baseman Jesus Aguilar from the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee will reportedly receive righty Jake Faria in the one-for-one trade. Neither team has confirmed the deal.
The Brewers are looking for pitching depth, both rotation and bullpen, so it is no surprise they added an arm. Also, they are very deep on the infield. The Brewers dealt from a position of depth to address a weakness. So did the Rays, in fact. They’re deep in Faria-esque arms but short a bat. A match made in trade deadline heaven.
Here is what Milwaukee’s infield situation looks like following the Aguilar trade:
Ryan Braun can also fill-in at first base, if necessary. The Brewers cleared up their infield logjam and added an interesting depth arm with experience as a starter and reliever. Faria, 26, has a 4.18 ERA in 161 2/3 career big league innings. He’s spent most of this season bouncing between MLB and Triple-A.
As for Aguilar, the 29-year-old was a revelation for the Brewers the last two years, hitting .271/.344/.527 with 51 home runs in 877 plate appearances after being claimed on waivers in February 2017. Aguilar has struggling this season though, hitting .225/.320/.374 with eight homers in 262 plate appearances.
The Rays are surely looking at Aguilar as a bounceback candidate. His exit velocity and hard-hit rates are strong, leading to a .246 expected batting average and a .447 expected slugging percentage. Aguilar could have some positive regression coming, and it may have started already — he’s hitting .298/.346/.574 in July.
Tampa Bay has been looking for a power righty bat for weeks — they were reportedly after Edwin Encarnacion before he was traded to the division rival Yankees — and, with Aguilar aboard, Rays manager Kevin Cash can fill out his lineup like so:
- C Travis d’Arnaud
- LF Tommy Pham
- RF Austin Meadows
- 1B Jesus Aguilar
- DH Nate Lowe
- CF Avisail Garcia (until Kevin Kiermaier returns from the injured list)
- 3B Matt Duffy
- SS Willy Adames
- 2B Eric Sogard
Of course, Tampa Bay platoons heavily, so first baseman Ji-Man Choi, infielder Joey Wendle, outfielder Guillermo Heredia, and utility man Mike Brosseau will get plenty of playing time. That’s a general lineup framework though. Aguilar slots in nicely.
The Rays come into Wednesday a half-game behind the second wild-card spot at 61-48. They are competing with the Athletics and Red Sox for that final postseason spot in the American League. The Brewers, meanwhile, are 56-51. They are 1 1/2 games back in the NL Central and one game behind the second wild-card spot.