What the Cubs and Nationals Got in the Jeimer Candelario Trade

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A day after the Angels reunited with two of their former prospects in Randal Grichuk and C.J. Cron, the Cubs brought back on the team’s former prospects to bolster Chicago’s lineup. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario was dealt to the Cubs, in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect in DJ Herz and Kevin Made. Here’s a closer look at the deal.

Related: What the Diamondbacks and Mariners Got in the Paul Sewald Trade

The Cubs’ Return

  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.258/.342/.481 slash line, 16 home runs and 48 extra base hits over 99 games (419 PA))

Candelario has come full circle, as the 29-year-old returns to the team that he started his professional career with in 2010. The new Cubs third baseman played in the Cubs organization from 2011-17, before Chicago moved him, Isaac Paredes, and cash to the Tigers for catcher Alex Avila and left-hander Justin Wilson

The veteran third baseman found success in Detroit, and his best in Detroit came in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. He posted an .872 OPS over 52 games that year, then followed it up with 16 home runs and 61 extra base hits a year later. But after a .217/.272/.361 campaign last year, Detroit non-tendered Candelario.

The 29-year-old joined a rebuilding Nationals team this past winter and put up impressive results in Washington. Candelario hit .258 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI, and his 48 extra base hits is 11th-most in the league (min. 300 PA). He’s also been a magnet for getting hit, as he sat in a tie for eighth in hit by pitches as of August 1.

The 29-year-old has pounced on fastballs this season, as indicated by his .326 average and reduced Whiff% rate on heaters this season. He has, however, been much more vulnerable to breaking balls.

Defensively, Candelario has a +6 Outs Above Average this season, significantly better than the -6 he sported in Detroit a year earlier.

The Nationals’ Return

  • LHP DJ Herz (3.97 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 80 K over 59 IP (AA))
  • SS Kevin Made (.240/.328/.355 slash line, three home runs and 23 extra base hits over 70 games (300 PA)(A+))

The big piece in this deal is DJ Herz, an eighth-round pick in 2019 that signed out of high school for $500,000. 

Herz’s prospect stock seemingly rose in 2021, when he struck out 131 batters over 81.2 IP across two levels that year and opposing batters hit just .157. Batters didn’t have much success against him in Tennessee (AA) last season either, but he walked an eye-popping 70 batters in 95.1 IP. 

Herz’s numbers have mostly improved this season, as his BB/9 and HR/9 rates have lowered. Still, he walked 37 batters against 80 strikeouts over 59 innings in AA.

It’s hard to pick up Herz’s release point with his delivery, and he’s shown a knack to work hitters up with the fastball that reportedly sits in the 91-94 MPH range. The key to his arsenal is a devastating changeup that differs in speed with his fastball by about 10 MPH, and it’s a pitch that can just fall off the plate. 

The other piece in this deal is Kevin Made. A 20-year-old shortstop, Made posted a .683 OPS across 70 games in South Bend (A+). He doesn’t strike out too much and will get on-base, but the 5 ‘9’’ infielder has not shown much power to this point in his career. 

Herz came in at #17 on the Nationals’ prospect rankings according to MLB.com.

The Verdict

After a hot streak at the end of July, the Cubs’ trade outlook changed. Rather than looking at the prospects of dealing Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman, Chicago opted to run with the momentum and add. The Cubs, for what it’s worth, are 3.5 games out of the Wild Card and five back of the Reds.

Now, Chicago didn’t deal any of the team’s top prospects — so this deal can be seen as a low-cost rental. 

For the Nationals, Washington did bring in a good lefty with potential — but also one with a lower floor and an arm that may be a reliever when it’s all said and done. Given his command, that’s likely to be the case.

But at that same token, Herz’s shown enough potential to warrant a long look to see if he can be a starter long-term.