The Arizona Diamondbacks could benefit from pursuing a third baseman on the trade or free agent markets. One of the better options who is currently a free agent is corner infielder Jeimer Candelario, who Jon Heyman of the New York Post recently mentions the D-Backs as a team that has shown interest in him.
Candelario is coming off a fine rebound season with the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres. In 576 plate appearances, Candelario batted .252/.336/.471 with a .346 wOBA and 117 wRC+. Candelario hit a career-high 22 home runs and posted a career-best .220 isolated slugging percentage. He also had an above-average 9% walk rate and 22% strikeout rate.
While his third base defense isn’t going to win any Gold Gloves, it is playable. He had -5 defensive runs saved, but +2 outs above average, and a +0.2 UZR/150 at the hot corner. He also split time between third and first base after getting traded to the Cubs, logging 145.2 innings across the diamond. He has played a handful of innings at first base in the past, though he has less than 1000 career innings at the position.
There are a few red flags with Candelario’s bat, however. His 88.3 MPH exit velocity, 36.3% hard-hit rate, and 7.9% barrel rate are below average. Baseball Savant’s expected stats, including xBA (.233), xSLG (.405), and xwOBA (.319), do not paint him in a positive light, as all three are also below the league average.
Still, Candelario is a pretty solid bat. He had a 124 wRC+ in 2020-2021 before a down year in 2022 but has seemed to re-find his groove this past year. MLB Trade Rumors currently estimates that Candelario will sign for four years at $70 million, coming out to an AAV of $17.5 million. The Diamondbacks do not have any large commitments. If they were to sign Candelario at this rate, he’d be the only other $10+ million contract alongside Ketel Marte.
Jon Heyman’s report also mentions the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Angels as other teams who have looked into Jeimer, however, I think the Diamondbacks are the best possible fit among the three. The Reds have many young potential stars in Spencer Steer, Noelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacio-Strand, and Elly De La Cruz as options at third base. Both Steer and CES can play first base as well. The Angels still have Anthony Rendon on a mega contract, with Brandon Drury, Luis Rengifo, and David Fletcher as other options. First base looks to be headed by standout rookie and 2023 first round pick Nolan Schanuel. The Diamondbacks do not have the same kind of depth. They could shift Geraldo Perdomo over to the hot corner, but as of right now, he’s their best shortstop option unless Jordan Lawlar starts the 2024 season in the bigs.
The Diamondbacks have the need at third base, have little to no long-term commitments, and could use the bat. Candelario feels like an almost perfect fit. He checks almost all the boxes the Diamondbacks need at third base.