Marlins has appointed first baseman Jesus Aguilar for the assignment, general manager Kim Ng announced to reporters (Twitter link via Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald).

Now that the trading deadline has passed, the only course of action for Marlins is to put Aguilar, 32, on waivers and hope another club claims them. However, given the $7.5 million guarantee on Aguilar’s struggling 2022 contract, that seems highly unlikely. While the Aguilar deal does carry a joint option for the 2023 campaign, a joint option is rarely exercised, so the team will see it as a pure lease.

There is still about $1.6 million left to pay on the Aguilar contract, plus a $200K purchase of the option. It’s hard to imagine competing clubs dropping $1.8 million to claim a player who hit just .236/.286/.388 in the season overall — including a slash of .188/.246/.347 since the All-Star wreck. The odds are that Aguilar will remove the waivers and become a free agent—either by being released or refusing direct assignment.

At that point, Aguilar would be free to sign a new contract with any team, and the new team would only owe him a prorated minimum league for any time spent on the MLB roster. The joint option is no longer under consideration, as he will be released from the contract containing that clause. Aguilar will be eligible post-season for the new club as long as he is signed (or, much less likely, claimed) before September 1.

While a team is unlikely to take a chance on Aguilar at the expense of his remaining salary, it stands to reason that several clubs would be interested in signing him in the league minimum prorated. Aguilar is not yet himself in 2022, but as recently as 2020-21 he gave Miami a combined 726 plate appearance with a .265/.336/.458 production, hitting 30 home runs and 33 doubles with a strikeout rate of 18.3%. against a solid 9.5% running rate.

Aguilar didn’t bring any significant platoon splits, so best of all, he’s an above-average daily slugger with a 30-homer pop… he just hasn’t come close to his best in 2022. His 23.2% strikeout rate is the highest it’s been since 2018, and Aguilar has seen his average exit speed (87.7 mph) and smash rate (35.4%) drop to career worst levels in 2022.

Aguilar is generally rated as a solid defender at first base, but he saw his typically solid grades take a step back in 2022, recording -4 Defensive Runs Saved, -1.4 Ultimate Zone Rating and zero Above Average Outs. He’s been limited to first-hitter or designated for the most part, with the only exception being a few makeshift appearances at diamond hot corners over the years (27 career innings, including five in 2022).

Assuming Aguilar does remove the waivers, a team that needs offensive help at first base or a designated hitter – or just a right-handed hitter off the bench – could look to low costs in hopes of turning the season around. For the Marlins, they will use the rest of the year to give a bigger look to Lewin Diazo, who was once among the organization’s top prospects but has seen its stock fall in recent seasons. All-Star Garrett Cooper could also see an increase in his time at first base, once he returned from the injury list.

By Blanca

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