A third baseman free agent is off the board for the Blue Jays, as the Reds have signed Jeimer Candelario
2 months ago
I guess players, agents, and general managers are night owls as well.
Early Thursday morning, it was reported by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the Cincinnati Reds are in agreement to sign Jeimer Candelario.
Per NY Post’s Jon Heyman, the contract is a three-year deal worth $45,000,000 with an option. That equates to $15,000,000 a season, which is quite a lot for a player who doesn’t have the greatest of track records (we’ll get into that).
Why is this so important that it warrants an article at this late hour? Well, this year’s free agency is fairly weak for position players, and even more so for third basemen. Coming into the off-season, Candelario was the consensus second-best third baseman on the market, a position that the Jays will need to fill.
The 30-year-old third baseman had one of his best seasons yet in 2023, slashing .251/.336/.471 with a career-high 22 home runs in 576 plate appearances for a 117 wRC+, the second-highest mark in his career. The 2021 season was his best (aside from the COVID-shortened 2020) and he slashed .271/.351/.443 with 16 home runs in 626 plate appearances with the Detroit Tigers that season.
Despite the strong year, Candelario doesn’t have the greatest of track records, as he’s slashed .243/.325/.414 with 88 home runs in 3036 plate appearances for a career 102 wRC+. He’s also accumulated 11.5 fWAR in his eight year career, picking up 3.3 in 2023 and 3.8 in 2021.
Defensively, he’s below average at the hot corner. In 2023, he had -5 Defensive Runs Saved and 2 Outs Above Average in 994 innings fielded at the position. For his entire career at third, he has -24 DRS and 1 OAA in 5421.1 innings fielded. After a trade to the Chicago Cubs at the deadline, he played 145.2 innings at first base, the first time he’s played there since the 2020 season.
Matt Chapman remains the best third baseman available, but even he has some flaws. While he’ll give you 20-30 home runs a season and plays terrific defence, he strikes out at a fairly high rate and is incredibly streaky for his career. After winning the American League Player of the Month in April, Chapman slashed .205/.298/.361 with 12 home runs in 467 plate appearances to finish the season.
I’m not entirely sure the Jays want to spend around $150,000,000 on Chapman, so it’s likely that they’ll either have to find a third baseman through a trade. Alternatively, they could look to fill from within, with Addison Barger, Orelvis Martinez, and Damiano Palmegiani all having strong claims to be the next third basemen.
Either way, it’s exciting to see how it’ll all shake up when things finally get moving. Let’s hope this was all worth it and Ohtani signs with the Jays.
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