The Washington Nationals have made their first move at the Trade Deadline in 2023, sending coveted Third Baseman Jeimer Candelario to the Chicago Cubs for a pair of prospects.
The initial reaction to the news has to be: finally. We knew that Candelario was going to be traded. The only questions were when and for what. The writing was on the wall earlier today when the lineup for tonight's game against the Brewers came out and Ildemaro Vargas was getting the start at Third Base, the position he will likely be filling for the remainder of the season. Davey Martinez even alluded to it earlier, all but saying Candelario had likely played his final game for the Nationals.
So the when was this evening prior to the game. Now the for what...
Michael Cerami of Bleacher Nation was first on the return for Candelario.
So let's break it down.
The Nationals ended up having what was one of, if not the best bat available on the market with fringe playoff teams like the Angels and even the Cubs themselves opting to buy instead of sell highly coveted bats such as Shohei Ohtani and Cody Bellinger. What the Nats got in return seems like a quantity over quality situation, which is not the worst thing in the world, provided they can develop Herz and Made into quality ballplayers.
Herz (Cubs 16th Ranked Prospect by MLB Pipeline prior to the season) seems like the prize of the return, as his strikeout numbers as referenced above lead to some expected excitement. Naturally, with a high strikeout rate pitching prospect typically comes command issues, as Herz does have a proclivity to walk batters as well. Some expect him to transition to a relief role in the Majors, but he is still currently being developed as a starter, something I expect the Nationals to continue.
Made (Cubs 14th ranked prospect) is much more of a project, as he is a defense first player who is struggling a bit in the Minor Leagues. Made is still young, however, and the Nationals can afford to take more time developing him than the Cubs could.
I would have preferred the Nationals have gone after one top 10 prospects in the Cubs' system as opposed to two in the teens that have more question marks, but I still don't think it is necessarily a bad deal for the Nationals, though they do have work to do in developing these players. The Cubs with their strong farm system made more sense as a trade partner than a team like the Angels who had an already weak farm system and got even weaker from previous dealings.
One thing to monitor this offseason is that both Herz and Made will be Rule 5 eligible, so the Nationals will need to add both to their 40 man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.
All in all, the Nationals did the right thing and Jeimer Candelario proved to be a very good signing.