How the Cubs envision using new acquisition Jeimer Candelario
It might’ve come as a surprise to fans to see Jeimer Candelario’s name listed at first base when the Cubs put out their lineup on Tuesday afternoon.
After all, the 29-year-old hasn’t played the position since 2020, when he played a career-high 43 games there with the Tigers in the pandemic-shortened season. But the Cubs’ big acquisition isn’t sweating the role.
“You just got to catch the ball,” Candelario said with a smile. “Throw the ball and catch the ball. It’s that simple. For me, it’s just having fun wherever I am right now and just helping my team win.
“That’s all it’s about right now.”
It’s why the Cubs sought their former prospect. He was clearly one of the best hitters on the market (16 home runs, 53 RBI, .258/.342/.481/121 wRC+ and a 3.3 bWAR) and he served a need — the Cubs have lacked consistent production from first base and third base and Candelario fits that role.
“He was the best fit,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said Tuesday after the trade deadline had passed. “It was very few hitters that we felt like could really add something to this team. And Candy was the one guy that we felt like — switch hitter really good from the left side can play both corners, can DH for us some —this really gives us a high-quality bat with good decision making and that was he was really very clear target.”
Adding Candelario immediately improves the Cubs at first base, but it also gives them some flexibility. The switch-hitter could play third base if needed, so the Cubs could become creative with their lineups, using him at the hot corner, Patrick Wisdom at first and still allow Cody Bellinger, their best defensive center fielder to roam the pasture.
That’s also why the Cubs opted to designate Trey Mancini for assignment in the corresponding move to make room on the 26-man roster.
“It was mostly lack of at-bats [for Mancini],” Hoyer said. “I think we’ll probably play Candy at both first and third. I think Nick [Madrigal] has done a great job at third, really impressive defensively. And I think we’ll probably play Patrick some at first, against lefties.”
Candelario has no preference whether he’s at first, third or DH’ing. He’s just here to do what he wanted to do when he first signed with the Cubs.
“For me, it’s just having fun wherever I am right now and just helping my team win,” Candelario said. “That’s all it’s about right now.”