The Reds officially announced the signing of third baseman Jeimer Candelario to a three-year contract with a club option for 2027. Candelario, a client of Premier Talent Sports and Entertainment, is guaranteed $45MM. The option could take the total to four years and $60MM.
Candelario, 30, is coming off one of the finest seasons of his career, having turned in a combined .251/.336/.471 batting line with 22 home runs (a career-high), 39 doubles, three triples and an 8-for-9 showing in stolen base attempts. That production came in a season split between the Nationals, who signed him to a one-year $5MM deal after the Tigers non-tendered him last winter, and the Cubs, who originally signed Candelario, traded him to Detroit in 2017, and reacquired him this past July.
Prior to his big league debut, Candelario was a touted prospect who ranked near the top of the farm systems in both Chicago and Detroit. He enjoyed an impressive rookie showing in 2017 (.283/.359/.425 in 38 games) but struggled to replicate that production in 2018 and saw his offense crater in 2019. Candelario bounced back with the Tigers both in 2020 and 2021, but Detroit cut him loose after a down year in 2022, wherein he posted a .217/.272/.361 slash in 467 plate appearances. Though Candelario’s time with the Tigers came to an unceremonious end, the switch-hitter has now played at a roughly three- to four-WAR pace in three of his past four seasons between the 2020 season, when he hit .297/.369/.503 in the shortened 60-game campaign, and his strong showings in 2021 and 2023.
That performance has positioned him nicely as one of the offseason’s top positional free agents. MLBTR ranked him thirteenth on our annual Top 50 MLB free agents list while projecting him for a four-year, $70MM deal. Only Shohei Ohtani, Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, and Teoscar Hernandez ranked higher than Candelario among free agent position players this offseason. Our projection came in higher than Candelario’s actual guarantee, which saw him receive a slightly lower AAV and one less guaranteed year than we projected him for.
While the Reds are an unexpected fit for Candelario at first glance, given the club’s glut of young infield talent, they were first linked to him several weeks ago. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported this morning that the Reds met with Candelario’s reps twice during this week’s Winter Meetings and could look to add Candelario to the roster, thus pushing utilityman