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BCB After Dark: I want Candy?

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks if you want Jeimer Candelario back for 2024.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the grooviest get-together for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in and celebrate with us. It’s hot out there but the music is cool in here. Your name is on the guest list. Grab an open table. Bring your own beverage.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

Tonight, the Cubs bounced back from a defeat and edged the Mets, 3-2. Solo home runs by Cody Bellinger and Mike Tauchman, along with an RBI double by Yan Gomes accounted for all three Cubs runs. But the most important part of of tonight’s game was the strong start by Jameson Taillon—two runs on three hits over seven innings. That’s the Taillon we thought (or hoped) we were getting when he signed with the Cubs this past winter. Yes, he gave up a two-run home run to Pete Alonso, but who hasn’t? I’m pretty sure I’d give up two two-run home runs to Alonso on the same pitch. Don’t ask me how that would work, but I’m pretty sure that Alonso could do it.

But it never made sense that Taillon was as bad as he was in the first half of the season. A guy as consistent as Taillon has been doesn’t just become awful overnight. But since the All-Star Break, Taillon has had a 2.76 ERA over five starts. That will do.

Last night, I asked you who should be the Cubs’ fifth starter going forward, in light of Drew Smyly’s struggles. There were two clear favorites as Hayden Wesneski won the vote with 48 percent and Javier Assad was in second with 29 percent.

On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I don’t do a movie essay. But I always have time for jazz, so those of you who skip that can do so now. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Tonight I’ve got a performance from just this past May by bassist Christian McBride and pianist Kenny Barron at Trinity Church in New York. There’s a long introduction to this video, so if you want to just skip to the music, it starts around the nine-minute mark. I have it cued up to that, but just in case that’s doesn’t work for you, I’m letting you know.

Welcome back to everyone who skips all that jazz.

Tonight’s question concerns corner infielder Jeimer Candelario and whether he should be back with the Cubs next year. As you are no doubt aware, the recently-acquired Candelario is a “rental” in that he’s eligible for free agency at the end of the year. And because he was traded mid-season, he’s not eligible to receive a qualifying offer either. If he leaves at the end of the year, the Cubs will get nothing in return.

Candelario has quickly become a fan favorite amongst Cubs fans in the short time he’s been here. Of course, it helps that he was a fan favorite among those of us who follow the minor leagues the first time he was in the Cubs organization. His positive attitude and that move he makes after every hit helps too. But the biggest reason he’s become a fan favorite is that over the eight games in his return to Chicago, Candelario is hitting .483/.545/.759 while filling in at both first and third base.

Candelario’s career, mostly with the Tigers, has been a lot of ups and downs. He struggled to establish himself as an everyday player in 2018 and 2019. But 2020 and 2021, it looked like he was on the verge of stardom. No, he didn’t get an All-Star nod either year, but he could have gotten one.

Then last year, Candelario had the worst season of his career which led the Tigers to non-tender him in the offseason. He signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Nationals this past off-season, which just shows that the baseball powers-that-be didn’t think much of him.

Of course, Canderlario got his career back untracked in Washington, who sent him to the Cubs at the trade deadline for two solid prospects. Defensively, Candelario has been an average third baseman throughout his career. He’s struggled a bit at first base with the Cubs, but considering that he hadn’t played the position since 2020 and sort of got thrown in there after the trade, he’s actually doing pretty respectably there.

I can’t tell you how much Candelario is going to get as a free agent this winter, but I can promise you that it’s going to be more than one year and $5 million. It will be at least three years and probably four. Maybe five if the bidding gets fierce. He may not command a nine-figure-contract, but he might come close to it. At least in the general area code.

Now the Cubs have a budget and spending money on Candelario would mean not spending money on someone else. Yes, I know the Ricketts family are billionaires and they can afford it, but there are draft pick and other penalties for going too far over the luxury tax. Still, I don’t think signing Candelario would prevent the Cubs from signing another player. I know everyone thinks the Cubs should just open the vault for Shohei Ohtani and maybe they should, but only one team is getting Ohtani. Also, of Ohtani wants to come to Chicago, there’s no way Jeimer Candelario’s contract is going to stand in his way. But do be aware that signing Candelario might prevent signing a different free agent. It would certainly prevent signing a different third baseman such as Matt Chapman.

There’s also the issue of Cubs minor leaguers, although there isn’t an obvious candidate in the minors to take over the third base job for the Cubs in the near future. Recent first round pick Matt Shaw may not have the arm for third base (although after Nick Madrigal, I never say never anymore) and James Triantos has struggled at the hot corner as well. Triantos has played more second base than first this year. BJ Murray Jr. may be the best Cubs third base prospect who is close to the majors, but his defense is iffy and at Murray’s ceiling is probably Jeimer Candelario.

So, taking everything into consideration, should the Cubs sign Jeimer Candelario as a free agent this winter?


Should the Cubs re-sign Jeimer Candelario as a free agent this winter?

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Thank you to everyone who stopped by this evening. We hope we kept the party going a little while longer. Please get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow night for more BCB After Dark.