The Angels, Diamondbacks and Reds are among the teams that have expressed early interest in Jeimer Candelario, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post. The Giants are also in the third base mix, per Heyman, although it’s not clear if they’re targeting Candelario specifically.
Arizona is the most straightforward of the three teams. Evan Longoria hit free agency, leaving the Snakes with a third base group headlined by Emmanuel Rivera, Jace Peterson and rookie Jordan Lawlar. The latter is one of the sport’s most talented prospects but has only 30 games above the Double-A level. Neither Rivera nor Peterson bring much to the table offensively, with both having particularly poor second halves.
Candelario would be a clear offensive boost. The switch-hitter combined for a .251/.336/.471 line with 22 home runs in 576 plate appearances between the Nationals and Cubs this year. While a dismal year in 2022 led to a non-tender from the Tigers, Candelario has been an above-average hitter in three of the last four seasons. Going back to 2020, he sports a .254/.329/.437 mark. If Lawlar steps into an everyday role at third base or shortstop (pushing Geraldo Perdomo to the hot corner), Candelario could see action at designated hitter.
That production would also be welcome for the Angels, although their internal options have lengthier track records than do Arizona’s players. The Halos owe Anthony Rendon $114MM over the next three seasons. That could lead the organization to shy away from a notable free agent investment for another third baseman (although Candelario obviously won’t come close to Rendon’s $245MM contract). The Halos have Brandon Drury and Luis Rengifo to split time between second and third base, perhaps taking extra at-bats if Rendon again misses time to injury.
Candelario also has experience at first base, where things are a little unsettled for the Halos. Nolan Schanuel held the job for the final couple months of the season. That he managed a .402 on-base percentage against MLB pitching within weeks of being drafted out of Florida Atlantic is remarkable. Yet Schanuel has all of 22 career minor league games and didn’t provide any kind of power in his first big league look. It’s not out of the question he could require additional time against minor league pitching. The Halos’ outlook at DH, of course, is dependent on the Shohei Ohtani decision.
A match with the Reds would likely be conditional on Cincinnati making a trade. The Reds already have an infield glut. Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Elly De La Cruz and Noelvi Marte are all in the corner infield mix. Jonathan India and Matt McLain project as the starting middle infield. Cincinnati general manager Nick Krall cited a lack of playing time at first base as a factor in declining their option on Joey Votto, although the $13MM difference between the option value and the buyout was surely the biggest factor.
Starting pitching is the top priority for the Cincinnati front office. That could be accomplished by dealing away a position player. Speaking in generalities, Krall told Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic that the Reds have had conversations about dealing from their talented collection of bats.