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Rays acquire Brian O’Grady from Reds, ditch Jesus Aguilar

With a roster spot opened, they add a first baseman/outfielder who put up big numbers at Triple-A last season.
The Rays acquired former Cincinnati Reds first baseman Brian O'Grady (34) on Wednesday. [AARON DOSTER  |  AP]
The Rays acquired former Cincinnati Reds first baseman Brian O'Grady (34) on Wednesday. [AARON DOSTER | AP]
Published Nov. 27
Updated Nov. 27

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays continued shuffling some seemingly spare parts on Wednesday, acquiring first baseman/outfielder Brian O’Grady from the Reds and designating for assignment first baseman/designated hitter Jesus Aguilar.

O’Grady, 27, at the least provides some intriguing depth, a lefty hitter and solid defender at both spots who put up big numbers at Triple-A Louisville last season, hitting .280 with 30 doubles, 28 homers, 77 RBI, 20 steals and a .909 OPS. He was named co-MVP at Louisville and rated the best defensive first baseman in the International League in Baseball America’s best tools survey.

The lefty swinger, a 2014 eighth-round pick from Rutgers, worked his way to the majors for an August 2019 debut, and hit .190 in 28 games. O’Grady has minor-league options remaining, and the Rays could use the depth at Triple-A, having traded lefty-hitting upper minor-league outfielders Jesus Sanchez and Joe McCarthy last season.

O’Grady had been DFA’d by the Reds on Monday as they cleared roster space, so the cost to get him is not expected to be much, a minor-leaguer to be named who is not likely to be a prospect and cash considerations. That’s similar to what the Rays owe the Reds for the recent deal to send pitcher Jose De Leon to Cincinnati.

Though the Rays already have a lefty-hitting first baseman in Ji-Man Choi and another option in Nate Lowe, O’Grady’s defensive versatility to also play the outfield, and all three positions, is a significant difference. Depending on what other moves they make, he could be in the mix for a spot on the 26-man roster.

Aguilar was acquired at the July 31 trade deadline from Milwaukee for reliever Jake Faria and didn’t do much for the Rays, hitting .261 with four home runs in 37 games.

Though the Rays could use some right-handed power, with catcher Travis d’Arnaud signing with Atlanta and outfielder Avisail Garcia a free agent, they obviously did not feel Aguilar, who is limited to first base or DH, was the answer, at least not with a projected arbitration salary of $2.5 million. He was a likely candidate to be non-tendered a contract at Monday’s deadline.

As with Matt Duffy, efforts to trade Aguilar were unsuccessful. They now have seven days to trade, release or run Aguilar through waivers.

O’Grady was the first player in Louisville history with a 20-20 season and, per the Rays, there was only one other player in the minors who matched his combination of doubles, homers and steals — OF Luis Robert of the White Sox, who had 31 doubles, 32 homers and 36 steals.

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