Cubs acquire Jeimer Candelario from Nationals for prospects: Why Chicago brought him back

By Ken Rosenthal, Patrick Mooney, Sahadev Sharma, Brittany Ghiroli and Dan Barbarisi

The Chicago Cubs acquired infielder Jeimer Candelario and cash considerations from the Washington Nationals in exchange for minor league left-handed pitcher DJ Herz and minor league infielder Kevin Made. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Candelario, a switch hitter, is slashing .258/.342/.481 with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs through 368 at-bats.
  • The 29-year-old is still due a little less than half of the $5 million he’s making this season.
  • Candelario made his major-league debut with the Cubs in July 2016. That season, he appeared in five games for Chicago.
  • The Cubs traded Candelario to Detroit in July 2017, and he played six seasons with the Tigers before landing in Washington on a one-year deal signed in November 2022.

Athletics‘s instant analysis:

How Candelario fits

It was barely 10 days ago that the Cubs looked like deadline sellers. An eight-game winning streak combined with making it back into both the division and wild-card races changed the tenor around the team. How aggressive they would be was the big question. Team president Jed Hoyer looked to answer that question by going out and acquiring the best bat available on the market in Candelario.

Depending on the matchup, the Cubs have options for playing time at third base, first base and DH. The versatile, switch-hitting Candelario gives manager David Ross more opportunities to be creative with his lineups and really adds more depth to a group that posted a 111 wRC+ in July, tied for fifth in the National League. —Sharma

What’s next for the Cubs?

For weeks, Hoyer has insisted he believed the underlying numbers that said his team was better than their record. Of course, all that mattered were wins, so relying on those numbers wouldn’t be enough. The team is finally starting to back up Hoyer’s words with its play on the field, and in turn, Hoyer is supporting the group by giving this team more of what it needs. But Hoyer can’t help it.

The team still needs help in the bullpen, especially from the left side. The fact that the Cubs are able to make moves like this and likely others without really losing their top prospects shows the depth they have created in the farm system. It’s times like this that a strong, deep system really needs to shine.

By getting back in the running, it feels deserved to reward a group that is finally performing and a fan base that has suffered from years of sellouts, and Hoyer is doing just that. —Sharma

The Ex-Cub factor

Kyle Hendricks will no longer be the only active Cubs player from the 2016 World Series team. Candelario received that championship ring — one of the most coveted in professional sports amid the franchise’s 108-year drought — after making his major-league debut in the midst of that epic season. Candelario appeared in five games in July and headed back to Triple-A Iowa to continue his development.

Blocked by Kris Bryant at third base, Candelario received just 36 plate appearances with the Cubs in 2017 when the club packaged him and Isaac Paredes in a trade deadline for Alex Avila and Justin Wilson. Candelario is finally returning to Wrigley Field as the switch hitter and smooth defender the Cubs once envisioned. – Mooney


MLB Trade Grades: Surging Cubs land Jeimer Candelario from Nationals to deepen lineup

Why the Nationals made this deal

Under general manager Mike Rizzo, the Nationals have made some excellent trades, and this one, on the surface, looks like another solid move. For a rental on a non-contending team, they were able to add two of the Cubs’ top 20 prospects, driving up the price as eight teams were cut to two Monday night: the Miami Marlins and the Cubs. The Yankees, despite persistent rumors, were never serious suitors.

Next: The Nationals could trade reliever Kyle Finnegan and, more of a longshot, outfielder Lane Thomas, who is under team control for two more seasons. — Ghiroli

Candelario’s scouting report

Candelario was one of baseball’s most dynamic hitters in 2021, leading the league in doubles and providing solid defense at third base for the Tigers. He hit in 2022, leading Detroit to cut ties and send Candelario to Washington on a one-year deal with both sides hoping for a rebound. The switch hitter certainly has, leading the Nats in WAR, providing one of the few bright spots in a dismal lineup. — Barbarisi

Required reading

(Photo: John Jones / USA Today)

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