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Jesús Aguilar Heads to Rays - Fantasy Implications

In what can be considered an overlooked trade by the standards of a deadline day (Greinke to Houston, Stroman to Mets, etc), both Tampa and Milwaukee engaged into discussions and finished the day with a deal. The operation ended being a one-for-one trade with a hitter going in one direction and a relief pitcher the other way around.

The biggest piece of the trade, first baseman Jesus Aguilar, moves to the Rays while reliever Jake Faria will be part of the Brewers' bullpen for the rest of the season.

Here is a breakdown of what is ahead for both players and the impact they'll have on their new team's plans going forward, mostly focusing on the rest of the season and for you fantasy owners on redraft leagues.

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Jesús Aguilar (1B, TB) - Stock Up

After having a career year last season for the Brewers, Jesús Aguilar's 2019 campaign hasn't brought any good news with it. Aguilar never amounted to anything in Cleveland but once he was moved to the Brewers something clicked and his game improved considerably. Until this spring, that is.

The regression Aguilar has suffered this year is notable and should be highlighted as a precaution (5x5 stats normalized to 600 PA):

Season R/600PA HR/600PA RBI/600PA SB/600PA AVG
2018 85 37 114 0 .274
2019 60 18 78 0 .225

Not much left in the air after looking at the table above. Aguilar has underperformed in every single 5x5 fantasy category (and also in those not included there) and therefore Milwaukee opted to move on from him opening room for other players to get more playing time (more on this later).

Enough with the negatives, though!

Jesús Aguilar is a prime candidate for a big comeback during the two months that are left to play. There are a few reasons to think of this. Let's take a look at the most impactful ones:

  • Aguilar has moved from the National League to the American League. That means he won't be forced to play 1B anymore and can slot in the DH spot on a daily basis.
  • Tampa Bay has sent Nate Lowe back to Triple-A, removing one potential threat to Aguilar's playing chances primarily at 1B but also as a DH.
  • The Rays' other 1B, Ji-Man Choi, has platooned batting mostly against righties. Aguilar comes as a great hitter against lefties and is expected to get all of those matchups.
  • As a matter of fact, Aguilar has had his best month in July: During the last 30 days, he has hit 3 of his 8 HR, improved his AVG to .298 and lowered his strikeout percentage to a season-low 19.2%.
  • If we go by advanced stats, Aguilar's wOBA sits at .304 for the season when his xwOBA says it should be up to .342. If he can perform as expected (which is on par with his career average wOBA of .349), only good things will come his way.

That is enough to consider Aguilar a clear candidate for a positive ROS outcome. The trade hasn't swung his %Rostered too much, and it currently is at 46.2% in ESPN leagues. There is a chance you can get him for free off waivers and I'd encourage you to gamble on him in deep leagues.


Jake Faria (RP, MIL) - No Value Change

As for the other piece of the trade, Jake Faria, we could spend two hours talking about him and get nothing substantial out of it. He has played every game this season as a reliever, never made it past two full innings in any of his games, and averaged 22 Pitches/IP in a total of 10 IP.

All of this comes in a season in which he was fully moved to bullpen duties after starting 14 and 12 games in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The results were "meh" at best back then, so Tampa opted to restrict him to relief duties this season.

In such a small sample, Faria has a 2.70 ERA, a not-so-pretty 5.72 FIP and a K-BB% ratio of just 8.5%. He can keep what has been his role to this date once he suits up for Milwaukee, or given his past, there is also a chance for him to make it through the final spots of the Brewers rotation if only to try his ability there.

Those are the main reasons his stock doesn't change with the move. He won't become anything different to what he has been lately, nor is his new team going to force a change for good or bad. Don't care too much about him.


Trade Impact - Rest of Rays' Roster

This probably where the meat and potatoes of this trade are found. I already mentioned a couple of important events and implications that will be affected by Tampa acquiring Aguilar.

First of all, it has made the Rays send 1B Nate Lowe back to Triple-A. As a rookie, he has not had a bad season and although he's getting out of the Major League roster now, we expect to see him back before the end of the season. Don't give up on him in dynasty formats. In redraft leagues with a higher ROS importance, if he was part of your roster for some reason, it is probably time to move on.

Lowe's stock fell out of the picture.

That means one less first baseman in the depth chart for a position in which Ji-Man Choi and Jesus Aguilar profile as the leading candidates to occupy. Ji-Man Choi production won't change as he will keep facing righties in a platoon split with Aguilar.

No change in Choi's stock.

One player that will see his appearances cut short on 1B is Travis D'Arnaud, who had covered that position on certain games. He will more than probably be locked into the catcher position from this point on, solidifying himself there.

Stock up for d'Arnaud.


Trade Impact - Rest of Brewers' Roster

The addition of Faria doesn't impact the Brewers' plans that much, but the sudden subtraction of Jesús Aguilar's bat surely does, much more in a National League where there is no DH spot available.

Eric Thames has been the primary 1B for the Brewers this season with 61 games at the position. He will be relieved to see Aguilar depart as he was the man who took his place in the lineup last season with his great outing. He will see less of the outfield and more of the first bag going forward.

Stock up for Thames, as his playing time will ramp up.

The other player affected by the removal of a 1B from the team is Travis Shaw. He played at the spot last season and also this year, and with Aguilar out of the team, he will also get chances there although his primary duty will still be to play at third base, much more with Thames establishing himself at first. Given that he was sent down to Triple-A at the end of June and called back up just days ago,

Shaw's stock also goes up after this move.

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