3B Jeimer Candelario
Another free agent target the Jays missed out on when their efforts were focussed elsewhere was third baseman Jeimer Candelario. The Reds ended up inking him to a short three-year deal worth $45M with a club option for a fourth year, when he was projected to receive a four-year deal worth closer to $70M. With the lack of quality free agents this offseason at the hot corner, Candelario represented the second-best option behind Matt Chapman.
Last season, Candelario put together a solid year by hitting .251 with an .807 OPS, 77 runs scored, 39 doubles, 22 home runs and 70 RBI across two teams. In addition, he even showed some flashes of speed, swiping a career-high 8 bases in 2023. Defensively, Candelario has maintained a respectable fielding percentage close to the league average of .970 over his eight-year career at third base.
With Candelario now off the table and the status of their pursuit of Chapman still unknown, the Jays resorted to signing utility infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa recently. Perhaps temporarily slotted in as the ballclub’s new third baseman, Kiner-Falefa is a huge downgrade from what Chapman provided to the ballclub. In comparison, even though Candelario may not be as defensively sound as Chapman, at least he could have put up similar numbers to Chapman from an offensive standpoint. More importantly, Candelario was an ideal stop-gap solution for the Jays while they await for the eventual arrivals of either of their top prospects Addison Barger or Orelvis Martinez in the near future.