Image credit: Jeimer Candelario (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Two weeks ago, the Cubs appeared primed to be sellers at the trade deadline. Instead, after winning 10 of 12 to get back in the National League playoff race, they are buying.
The Cubs acquired third baseman Jeimer Candelario on Monday in exchange for prospects DJ Herz and shortstop Kevin Made. Candelario made his major league debut with the Cubs but played just 16 games for them before he was traded to the Tigers at the 2017 trade deadline.
Herz ranked as the Cubs No. 19 prospect. Made entered the season ranked among the Cubs Top 30 Prospects but dropped out amidst a third consecutive poor offensive season.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Candelario signed a one-year deal with the Nationals before the season and delivered one of his best seasons this year. He hit .258/.342/.481 with 30 doubles, 16 home runs and 53 RBIs in 99 games while playing above-average defense at third base. Candelario represents a significant upgrade for the Cubs at the hot corner, where five different players combined to hit .218/.302/.392 this season. He is signed through the end of this year and will be a free agent after the season.
DJ Herz, LHP
An eighth-round pick of the Cubs in 2019, Herz is an athletic lefthander with an extreme crossfire delivery that makes him tough for batters to pick up. He went 1-1, 3.97 in 14 starts with Double-A Tennessee and had 80 strikeouts and 37 walks in 59 innings. Herz’s fastball ranges from 90-94 mph and gets late swings and misses in the zone because batters struggle to pick it up out of his delivery. He keeps hitters further off balance with a plus, low-80s changeup he sells with his arm speed and an average, late-snapping breaking ball in the upper 70s. Herz has the stuff to start, but his crossfire delivery makes it difficult for him to consistently throw strikes. He has below-average command and control and he has completed more than five innings only once in 66 career starts, largely due to poor pitch efficiency. Herz is likely to end up in the bullpen as an effectively wild lefthanded reliever similar to Jake Diekman. He will begin his Nationals career at Double-A Harrisburg.
A high-profile $1.5 million signee out of the Dominican Republic, Made has shined defensively at shortstop for the Cubs but long struggled to hit. He’s an advanced, polished defensive shortstop with soft hands, clean actions and plus-plus arm strength. He projects to stick at the position and has shown the instincts and aptitude to quickly pick up the nuances of playing second and third base, as well. Made is a premium defender, but he offers little at the plate. He is a free swinger prone to chasing high fastballs and overwhelmingly swings at pitches he can’t drive. He has a mechanically-sound swing, plenty of bat speed and solid pitch recognition and barrel accuracy, but his swing decisions are poor and limit him to a well below-average hitter. His ceiling is limited to a defense-first utilityman unless the Nationals can rein in his free-swinging ways.