Despite a dearth of young infielders (and more on the way), veteran infield help is coming to the Queen City. The Cincinnati Reds are signing Jeimer Candelario to a three-year, $45 million deal with a club option worth an additional year at $15 million.
Jeimer Candelario has reportedly signed with the Cincinnati Reds. pic.twitter.com/Y1AiPbSVLw
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 7, 2023
Candelario will join a Reds infield that already seemed too crowded with exciting young players. While it never hurts to add a veteran presence to a mix like that, speculation regarding trading some of that surplus for a pitcher will only grow louder in Cincinnati.
Reds Sign Jeimer Candelario
The Reds are adding a switch-hitting veteran coming off a rebound year. Split between the Nationals and Cubs, the 30-year-old hit .251/.336/.471 with a career-high 22 homers. When he’s at his best, like last year, Candelario is more of a doubles hitter with a good approach at the plate. In 2023, he smacked 39 doubles (three away from matching a career high) and produced slightly above average walk and strikeout rates.
Candelario has played primarily third base in his career but has also seen time at first. Since he isn’t necessarily great at either spot, plus the Reds have neither position solidified, Candelario will likely see time at both corners. For his career, he has -24 Defensive Runs Saved in over 5,400 innings at third for the Reds but has graded out slightly better at first in a much smaller sample (2 DRS in over 600 innings).
Logic would dictate Reds will utilize one of their young position players to acquire an impact SP. Noelvi Marte or Encarnacion-Strand. I'd assume it's Marte with Jeimer Candelario signed as a Bridge to (ideally) Cam Collier. Reds getting aggressive is great for Baseball.
— MLBExecutiveBurner (@HotStoveintel) December 7, 2023
While he represents the most veteran position player on Cincinnati’s roster, Candelario is not the offense’s focal point. Thus, he won’t have to be the star carrying the load. Candelario provides value as a veteran presence, taking good at-bats and spreading line drives across the outfield.
Candelario’s underlying metrics might raise some red flags despite the rebound season. Candelario did not hit the ball hard last year. Candelario ranks in the bottom half or bottom quarter in many contact quality metrics. While he should benefit from the Reds’ hitter-friendly ballpark, the underlying metrics, plus his poor 2022, might mark this deal as a worthwhile gamble for Cincinnati.
Main Photo Credits: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports