A late rush of big news to close out the Winter Meetings was capped off near 1:00 AM Thursday morning when Mark Feinsand announced the Reds had signed third baseman Jeimer Candelario.
The 30 year-old switch-hitting corner infielder spent the majority of his career in Detroit, where he broke out in 2020, but was a surprise non-tender after a down 2022 season.
Last year he signed a one-year prove it deal with Washington, before being one of the top bats moved at the deadline landing with the Cubs.
Candelario proved that 2022 was nothing more than an injury-riddled down year as he bounced back to slash .251/.336/.471 with 22 home runs and a 117 wRC+ last season. Considering how weak the offense is in this free agent class, Calendario was a name many teams were interested in and Cincinnati came as a surprise to some.
For the Reds, you get a switch-hitter, something Cincinnati has rarely had, with pop that will play up in Great American Ballpark. According to Baseball Savant, if he were to play all of his games in Cincinnati he would have ended the season with 30 home runs. A lineup that needed a power boost landed one.
I know what you are thinking. The Reds already had too many infielders, why did they add another?
Well, they have room at DH. Candelario can either DH and have Christian Encarncacion-Strand play first, or vice versa. Spencer Steer can slot into left or a super utility role. Elly De La Cruz at short, Noelvi Marte at third, and Matt McLain at second.
Wait, where’s Jonathan India? India has not been the same player since his Rookie of the Year award two years ago. Reports are the team has plans to cross train him at other postions as well. Perhaps he takes a bench role, or is traded. Signing Candelario opens several trade possibilities if the Reds want to go out and land a true Ace.
Cincinnati is in the drivers seat. A lineup with few holes, little money on the books with early signs of adding payroll, and prospects and young players who can fetch top level talent. The offseason is not complete, but all signs are pointing towards a true contender and special summer in Cincinnati.