Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: Jesús Aguilar

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Jesus Aguilar #99 of the Baltimore Orioles prepares for a pitch during a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Jesus Aguilar #99 of the Baltimore Orioles prepares for a pitch during a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Former National League central foe Jesús Aguilar could help fill a few holes for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which may make him a target in free agency

The Pittsburgh Pirates have plenty of needs that Ben Cherington will look to address this offseason. One of these needs in the first base position. Another need is a right-handed power bat for the lineup. There is one potential free agent target who could help with both of these needs.

First baseman/designated hitter Jesús Aguilar could become a target in free agency for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even though Aguilar is coming off the worst season of his MLB career outside of the COVID shortened 2020 season, he could still provide a nice shot in the arm for the Pirate offense.

Last season Aguilar was designated for assignment by the Miami Marlins on August 26th. He was quickly claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles, who he would go on to play for during the month of September.

Aguilar totaled 507 plate appearances between the two clubs last season and hit for a .235/.281/.379 slash line. Aguilar posted an 86 wRC+, the lowest of his career for a full season, an 86 OPS+, and hit 16 home runs.

Last season, Pirate first basemen hit for a putrid .196/.256/.313 slash line. This included a 59 wRC+, 27.8% strikeout rate, and just a 5.7% extra base hit rate. It likely goes without saying that Pittsburgh’s first base production was among the worst of any position group in baseball. So, even while having a down year, Aguilar still would be a massive upgrade over this production.

Plus, there is reason to believe Aguilar could bounce back some in 2023. During the 2022 season his 6.9% barrel rate and 36.0% hard hit rate were both slightly better than league average for hitters. Additionally, his 23.5% strikeout rate (league average is 22.1%) was nothing egregious.

Dating back to 2017 when Aguilar, who made his MLB debut in 2014, first became a full-time MLB player, he has hit for a .257/.326/.456 slash line in 2,479 PAs. This includes a 109 wRC+, 9.0% walk rate, 23.0% strikeout rate, and 109 home runs.

Next. Potential Opening Day Options for Second Base. dark

Aguilar could help the Pirates fill their need for help at both first base and for right-handed power in their lineup. He could also be available at a decently cheap price, which is always important for the Pirates.

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