We said this past offseason that the Cubs should have tried to bring Jeimer Candelario back, and more recently we wrote that he was a fit as a trade target. Jed Hoyer must have been listening because he went out and brought the former Cubs farmhand back to Chicago six years after he and shortstop prospect Isaac Paredes were traded to Detroit for Alex Avila and Justin Wilson at the 2017 deadline.
Candelario was one of the most sought-after bats on the market, with as many as eight teams reportedly engaging the Nationals in trade discussions. The switch-hitting infielder has been much better from the left side, where he is slashing .271/.352/.523 with a 134 wRC+ and 13 of his 16 home runs on the season. He has played exclusively at third base for the last three seasons but does have some experience at first should the Cubs want to explore that as an option.
The return would have seemed pretty steep a year or two ago, but this seems like a pretty solid swap for Hoyer and the Cubs. Yes, even for a rental. Candelario’s 3.1 fWAR leads NL third basemen and is third in the majors at the hot corner. Both Herz and Made are Rule 5 eligible after this season as well, so the Cubs had to pare down some of that pre-40-man depth because they can’t keep everyone.
For more on the deal, here’s the press release:
Candelario, 29, hit .258 (95-for-368) with 57 runs, 30 doubles, two triples, 16 home runs, 53 RBI and an .823 OPS in 99 games with Washington this season. He entered today third in the N.L. in doubles and tied for sixth with 48 extra-base hits. Candelario leads N.L. third basemen in fWAR (3.1), doubles and extra-base hits while his OPS is third and .481 slugging mark is fourth. He signed a one-year major league contract with the Nationals in November of last year.
Candelario returns to the Cubs organization after he was signed by Chicago as a non-drafted free agent in October of 2010, making his major league debut in five games with Chicago in 2016. He was traded to Detroit with infielder Isaac Paredes in a deal for catcher Alex Avila and pitcher Justin Wilson at the 2017 trade deadline.
The switch-hitting Candelario has appeared in 705 major league games with Chicago (2016-17), Detroit (2017-22) and Washington (2023), hitting .243 (620-for-2,551) with 156 doubles, 15 triples, 82 home runs and 301 RBI. He has played primarily third base (613 games) and has also seen time at first base (64) and designated hitter (21). Candelario appeared in a career-high 149 games with Detroit in 2021, tying for the major league lead with 42 doubles while batting .271 (151-for-557) with 16 home runs and 67 RBI.
Herz, 22, was selected by Chicago in the eighth round of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft out of Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville, N.C. In 14 starts for Double-A Tennessee this season, he went 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA (26 ER/59.0 IP), 37 walks and 80 strikeouts.
Made, 20, hit .241 (63-for-262) with 17 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 25 RBI in 70 games for High-A South Bend in his third professional season. He was signed by Chicago as a non-drafted free agent, July 2, 2019, out of the Dominican Republic.