Earlier than the Winter Conferences started, the Washington Nationals introduced they signed recently-turned 29-year-old infielder Jeimer Candelario (JAY-mer can-duh-LAR-ee-oh) to a 1-year/$5M free agent deal, including the previous Chicago Cubs’ prospect and Detroit Tigers’ third baseman (1B/DH) to the combo in D.C.
As soon as they arrived in San Diego, CA for the Winter Conferences final week, GM Mike Rizzo and supervisor Davey Martinez had been requested what the signing meant for a few of the different hot-corner infielders on the roster.
Candelario is coming off a .217/.272/.361, 19 double, 13 dwelling run, -0.1 fWAR 2022 marketing campaign with the Tigers wherein he performed in 124 video games and made 467 plate appearances.
In 2021, Candelario, who was born in New York, however signed with the Cubs in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic, and was traded to the Tigers in 2017, put up a .271/.351/.443 line with a complete of 42 doubles and 16 dwelling runs in 149 video games and 626 PAs in a (team-high) 3.9 fWAR season.
In 2020’s 60-game marketing campaign, the nook infielder hit 11 doubles and 7 dwelling runs in 52 video games and 206 PAs in a 1.2 fWAR run.
“He’s a younger participant that we expect goes to have a bounce-back season,” Rizzo instructed reporters. “He confirmed for a pair seasons in a row earlier than final yr he was a participant that the needle was pointing north. We’ve taken fliers on gamers with some previous success in a down yr, and we expect that this man is an efficient bounce-back participant. Swap-hitter, younger participant that hit 42 doubles two years in the past, and I feel that he’s the kind of man that provides Davey some flexibility. He can play each corners of the infield. He can DH, he hits from either side of the plate. So I feel that he’s younger, we expect he can bounce again, and he offers us flexibility.”
Carter Kieboom, the Nats’ 2016 1st Spherical choose, continues to be working his approach again from Tommy John surgical procedure which stored him off the sphere in 2022, however is predicted to be within the combine for the third base job this spring, and Ildemaro Vargas, who performed 43 video games at third after becoming a member of the membership in August of final season, re-signed this winter and is within the combine as effectively.
“[Candelario] offers us somewhat versatility,” Martinez mentioned of the signing. “For probably the most half, he’s going to compete for the third base job. I do know Carter missed a yr, however we’ve nonetheless received loads of worth in Carter. I talked to Carter the opposite day. He’s been figuring out and he’s been hitting. He says he feels actually good. He’s been coming alongside. We anticipate him to be able to go for Spring Coaching, and he’s going to struggle for a 3rd base job.
“If that works, Jeimer can do loads of various things for us. I’m enthusiastic about that. I had him in Chicago when he was younger. I do know him. He’s an unbelievable child. He’s received nice character. He’s a pacesetter within the clubhouse.
“For me, once we talked about getting him, it type of was a no brainer.”
“He’s going to compete at third base,” Rizzo mentioned of Candelario, “… however he additionally has the power to play first base so…”
So… what does it imply for Kieboom?
“Carter goes to compete for third base, and one of the best participant will play third, and we’ll make different preparations for the opposite gamers,” the GM defined.
Martinez echoed Rizzo’s ideas when he too was requested what it could imply for the crew if Kieboom gained the job.
“Yeah, we’ll determine what else we are able to do with [Candelario],” he mentioned. “However he can play first base. He can DH. We are able to do a pair various things with him.”
Candelario, for his half, is trying to play third day-after-day in 2023.
“I do know who I’m and I do know what I can do,” he instructed reporters in an introductory press convention earlier this week, “and proper now this can be a large alternative for me enjoying each single day at third base. This can be a large alternative for me, figuring out what I can do, and with Davey Martinez there, he’s a extremely good chief, and I’ve identified him since my first yr within the large leagues, and going from there, I feel that’s it.”
Kieboom has struggled on the large league stage since making his debut in 2019, and the surgical procedure which value him all of 2022 is simply the most recent setback for the now-25-year-old infielder.
Vargas, 31, acquitted himself effectively with the membership final season, and earned a brand new cope with the Nats for the upcoming marketing campaign.
So Martinez and Co. on the Nationals’ bench have choices for 2023.
They’ll all get the chance to compete for the third base job, however they’ve depth on the scorching nook going into Spring Coaching.
“It helps us at that place, however offers us flexibility,” Rizzo mentioned. “If Carter comes again to the participant that all of us envisioned him being when he was one of many prime prospects within the sport, then Sweet can play a complete bunch of various positions, however they’re going to compete, and Carter is wholesome, he’s making ready for Spring Coaching. He’s in baseball mode now, so we’ll see when he arrives the place we’re at.”
“He’s been throwing, yeah,” Martinez mentioned when requested if he had any updates on Kieboom’s progress this winter. “He’s nonetheless on a throwing program, and he needs to be able to go in Spring Coaching.”
“He’s going to bounce again,” Martinez mentioned optimistically when a reporter requested what considerations he had with Kieboom going into the brand new season. “What I need to see him do, as a result of third base you’ve received totally different angles on throwing, we need to be sure that he will get his reps. If he comes again and he’s able to do all these issues and he can compete for that third base job, then he’ll.”