What a difference a few weeks can make.
The Chicago Cubs, fresh off an eight-game winning streak that vaulted them back into National League Central contention, went out and acquired Jeimer Candelario from the Washington Nationals on Monday.
Candelario, who has 16 home runs and 53 RBI’s this season in Washington, figures to be an instant power upgrade in a Cubs lineup that sometimes struggles to hit home runs, and he’ll also give them a consistent option at third base.
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Here’s what you need to know.
What are the Cubs getting in Candelario?
Candelario is a switch hitter, but to be honest, his splits against righties are far better in all areas. His on-base percentage is 30 points higher against righties, he’s hit 13 home runs from the left side of the plate, and his batting average is 44 points higher from that side.
In other good news for the Cubs, his glove at third base has been much-improved this season, with an UZR/150 of 2.6, according to Fangraphs.
Even if the Cubs want to use him as a designated hitter, they could still play Nick Madrigal at the position. Madrigal is pretty neutral in terms of his splits, through his on-base percentage is much higher against righties because of a higher walk rate.
The reality is that Candelario will be a significant upgrade in the lineup over players like Trey Mancini, and he is much-more consistent than Patrick Wisdom.
The Players Leaving
The Cubs sent infielder Kevin Made and pitcher DJ Herz to the Nationals in the deal, their No. 14 and 16-ranked prospects according to MLB Pipeline, respectively.
Made is a slick-fielding shortstop who has seen limited success in High-A South Bend at the plate, but he has certainly grown in that area and the Nationals will hope that development will continue.
Herz has managed to cut down on his walk rate this season after seeing it rise to 6.6 per nine innings a season ago, but has also seen his strikeouts-per-nine rate drop, though it is still a robust 12.2.
While both players have potential, the fact is that the Cubs have a lot of prospects at both spots. Jordan Wicks and Jackson Ferris both rank ahead of Herz in terms of the team’s left-handed pitching prospects, and shortstops like Cristian Hernandez and Jefferson Rojas are in that conversation when it comes to Made.
To top it off, both players would be Rule 5 Draft-eligible this offseason, meaning the Cubs would have had to protect both players on their reserve lists.
The Final Verdict
Ultimately, the Cubs wanted to go after one of the best bats on the trade market, and they did it. Candelario gives the team a legit power threat at third base, while also batting for a higher average and for more discipline than their other options in that category.
The move also gives the Cubs additional flexibility with their deployment of Christopher Morel, and adds a ton of pop to the middle of the lineup, allowing David Ross to better position his contact hitters.