Cubs bolster lineup in trade for Jeimer Candelario
For the first time in three years, the Cubs are officially buyers at the trade deadline.
The team made a move Monday to acquire third baseman Jeimer Candelario from the Washington Nationals.
The Cubs are giving up pitching prospect D.J. Herz and infielder Kevin Made in return. The Cubs are also getting a cash consideration in the deal.
The Cubs’ recent 8-game winning streak helped propel the team closer in the race in both the division and the NL Wild-Card and put Jed Hoyer’s front office in a position to add a major piece to the everyday lineup.
“Just awesome run for this group to put ourselves right back in the conversation and get some more players to help make a push,” Ian Happ said. “It will be very exciting to put the group together and make a run at this thing.
“That’s what all of us in this clubhouse really want is to have a chance to go play for the division. I think we have the guys in the room to do it. Excited Jed and the front office are adding on.”
Candelario, 29, actually came up through the Cubs system after signing as an amateur free agent in November 2010. He made his MLB debut in 2016 and played 16 games with the Cubs between the ’16 and ’17 seasons.
In July 2017, the Cubs sent Candelario and infielder Isaac Paredes to the Tigers for catcher Alex Avila and reliever Justin Wilson at the trade deadline.
“It’s funny how the baseball world works,” David Ross said. “My first Spring Training here, he was there and a teammate. Every time I’ve seen him and you kinda follow from a distance and to be able to put up the numbers he’s been putting up this year and to be able to come over and help us out, that’s huge.
“I know him just as a person — great human being. And obviously as the player he’s been and having a really good season. Happy to get him back.”
Candelario spent the last few years in Detroit and signed a 1-year deal with Washington in the offseason. He is hitting .258/.342/.481 (.823 OPS) with 16 homers, 30 doubles and 53 RBI.
He has an OPS+ of 128, meaning he is 28% better than league average, so he will bring a legitimate offensive presence to the Cubs lineup.
Candelario played alongside Happ in the Cubs system and the two shared the field together for a decent portion of 2017.
“It’s awesome,” Happ said. “He’s had such a great year. Really good player. … I’m excited to have him back and part of this group and hit right in the middle of this lineup. It will be great.”
Candelario has mostly played third base during his career, but saw time at first base in 2019-20 as well. He is a switch-hitter with a career 10.7 WAR and sports an impressive 3.3 WAR (Baseball Reference) this season that ranks second on the Cubs behind only Dansby Swanson.
Herz ranked 15th on Lance Brozdowski’s 2023 preseason Cubs prospect list while Made was 29th. Both players will be Rule 5 eligible this winter so the Cubs would have had to add them to the 40-man roster this winter or risk losing them to another organization.
Herz is a 22-year-old southpaw drafted by the Cubs in the 8th round in 2019. He had a 3.97 ERA in 14 starts with Double-A Tennessee this season, striking out 80 batters in 59 innings but also walking 37.
Made, 20, has not made it above A-ball yet and is hitting .241/.328/.355 (.683 OPS) in 70 games with Advanced Class-A South Bend this season. He was initially signed by the Cubs as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2019.
Inside the clubhouse, the Cubs view the addition of one of the best bats available as a major vote of confidence.
“Candelario’s a phenomenal player,” Yan Gomes said. “If anything, it’s a show that the front office is behind us and they believe in us. We’re gonna go out there and battle every time we get.”
Nico Hoerner concurred.
“Yeah, we definitely appreciate that and excited about what that holds,” Hoerner said of the Candelario deal. “Obviously big series right here but just excited to see what that group looks like over the course of two months and play our best baseball.”