villIt’s well known that the Marlins want to improve their offense badly. And while they’re not expected to spend big money just yet, they need to fill the holes created by the departures of Martín Prado and Starlin Castro. On Monday, the Fish began doing so by acquiring first baseman Jesús Aguilar from waivers and infielder Jonathan Villar via trade.
Aguilar had a down season between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays, though he was better with the latter in the second half. Even though the Venezuelan did not start games regularly with the Rays, his slash line .261/.336/.424 was noticeably better than the .225/.320/.374 he posted while playing for Milwaukee.
Now in Miami, he knows he can get more playing time and even become the primary Marlins first baseman.
“I’m glad for this move,” Aguilar told Fish Stripes on Wednesday. “I think this is an opportunity every player wants.”
“That’s one of the things my agent and I discussed—that I was going to get the chance to play and to show I can establish myself over there. I need to work hard and get to spring training as healthy as possible.”
The Venezuelan, a 35-homer, 108-RBI All-Star in 2018, acknowledges that this is will be a very different environment to the one he was in a 96-win Rays team. The Marlins are in the middle of a rebuild and they’re trying to compete in the near future thanks to a promising farm system.
“This is a rebuilding team that has great young talent. Obviously, they need more experience, but it’s not the first time I’ll go through this. It also happened in Milwaukee during my first year there,” the 29-year-old continued. “I’m excited and looking forward to spring training. It’s a very strong division, but we’ll work and play as hard as we can. I know it’ll be hard to win games, but we cannot lose our faith. We need to be consistent.”
Although Aguilar still needs to make a good impression on Don Mattingly and the coaching staff in spring training, the righty slugger is expected to start frequently for the Marlins. In the National League during his two-and-a-half years with the Brewers, he hit 49 doubles, 59 dingers, drove in 194 runs and had a .261/.339/.492 slash line across 376 games.
Now on the Marlins’ side, hopefully he’ll be bringing these moments to Little Havana. (Ouch!)
The Maracay native celebrated the arrival of Villar, who will bring speed, durability, defensive versatility, and some pop to the Fish. They were teammates back in Milwaukee and know each other well.
“He’s a very explosive player and he proved that with the great season he had in Baltimore. His spark will be good for the team. We’ve already played together and I know what it’s like to work with him.”
Aguilar will have to prove himself in a new environment, but he certainly has the potential to be a key middle-of-the-order player that will be in charge of driving runs in along with Brian Anderson, Jorge Alfaro, and company.
Thanks to these acquisitions, Marlins fans can eagerly look forward to having established, in-their-prime contributors in the daily lineup—that wasn’t the case during 2019 when the team averaged only 3.80 runs per game. Regardless of results, Aguilar and Villar can also help in the clubhouse with their veteran presences.
“I think it’s going to be a positive season,” Aguilar said. “We’re going to try to bring energy to those kids.”