For a team that lacked pop in 2019, a recently DFA’d Jesus Aguilar could be an interesting bench option for the St. Louis Cardinals for cheap.
Ah, back to search the bargain bin again. This is life as a St. Louis Cardinals fan, and if I’m honest, I don’t really mind it. Not this year. The team is already weighted under plenty of large contracts and with no true holes to fill, the bargain bin is a fine playground as the team can just tweak and tone a roster that already made it to the NLCS last year.
There are places where the team could see a hole like in left field or third base, but with plenty of young cheap talent here all ready to take the place of Marcell Ozuna, the team won’t make moves for that.
What they do lack is the pop that the rest of the league has.
This was a very below-average offensive roster in 2019, a year where offense was exploding around the league. With the new 26-man roster starting in 2020, that leaves a little extra room to carry someone on the bench who can just be a stud pinch hitter to come up and try and hit bombs in big situations.
Enter Jesus Aguilar.
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As of Wednesday morning, Aguilar is a free agent after he was DFA’d by the Rays. This was a far fall from grace as if you’ll remember, he was a stud in 2018 with the Brewers.
Blasting 35 homers with an .890 OPS, Aguilar’s age 28 season landed him as an All-Star and a player who looked like he was going to be a problem in the NL Central. Instead, Aguilar hit just eight homers and hit for a sub-.700 OPS in 94 games with the Brewers to start the year and then was traded to the Rays where his OPS jumped back up to .760, but the power didn’t return.
At 6-3 and 250 lb, Aguilar is a big boy who really had bad luck in 2019. He had a .274 BABIP and while his average exit velocity fell from 89.8 mph in 2018 to 89.3 mph in 2019, it shouldn’t have caused his OPS to fall that much.
While Aguilar’s 2018 looks like an outlier, his .309 BABIP would suggest it wasn’t. That player is still in there, and another change of scenery could jolt that out.
Coming off such a bad year and at the age of 29, Aguilar wouldn’t be expensive and is perfect as a bench bat. He may not love the idea of backing up Paul Goldschmidt but in all reality, making it back to the NLCS may have made St. Louis a more attractive destination again.
The Cardinals do already have a bunch of bench options for the outfield, but without a big batter who has done it in the past on the bench, an argument for Aguilar is there and he would fill that role well.