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Cincinnati Reds to sign infielder Jeimer Candelario, per reports

Another infielder! Who knew?

Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds told future Hall of Famer Joey Votto that there would not be enough plate appearances for him in 2024 when they declined his option earlier this offseason. A quick glance at what’s around the roster as infield options made that tough to swallow, but made sense - each of Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Spencer Steer, Jonathan India, Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, and Noelvi Marte put their stamp on the team as infielders during the 2023 season, after all.

With a plethora of infielders already in-tow and the former face of the franchise already out, it’s with a furrowed brow that I relay that the Reds have reportedly signed another infielder. Jeimer Candelario will be a Cincinnati Red in 2023, as MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand relayed early Thursday morning, confirming the rumors that have swirled for days connecting the two despite the odd fit on-paper.

The Reds have needed a right-handed hitting outfielder all winter. Might that mean that Spencer Steer, who spent plenty of time there last year as part of his exercise in versatility, is destined to spend more time at that? Might that mean that the Reds are considering moving some of their current infield depth for pitching?

Could Jonathan India play some outfield? Would they really pull a ‘Nick Senzel’ with Elly De La Cruz and play him in CF?

What we do know, for now, is that Candelario is fresh off a ~3 WAR season in 2023 in which he posted a 119 OPS+ in 576 PA split between the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. The switch-hitting 3B/1B led all MLB with 42 doubles during the 2021 season, and he’s the owner of a 112 OPS+ since the start of the 2020 season overall. While never known as a huge supplier of power, he’s also never called a ball park like GABP his home for a full season, so perhaps he’s just now in a position to benefit from that as he enters his age-30 season.

Candelario ranked as the #13 overall free agent on MLB Trade Rumors’ Top 50 free agent rankings entering the offseason, with a 4-year, $70 million deal the estimation. We’re still waiting to find out the final numbers on this deal, but obviously that would put him in rarified air when it comes to Cincinnati’s spending in free agency.

*** Update ***

ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan has confirmed that it’s a 3-year, $45 million guarantee, with other outlets reporting there’s an option for a 4th year at another $15 million.