Jeimer Candelario, longtime Detroit Tigers 3B, signs contract with Washington Nationals

Detroit Free Press

The Washington Nationals believe former Detroit Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario will bounce back in 2023.

Candelario, who turned 29 on Thanksgiving, and the Nationals have agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with $1 million in incentives, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Free Press on Tuesday. Candelario has completed his physical.

The Tigers non-tendered Candelario on Nov. 18. He was projected for $7 million in his final year of salary arbitration. By cutting Candelario, the Tigers made him a free agent for the first time in his career.

CUTTING CANDY: Tigers non-tender third baseman Jeimer Candelario, making him free agent

The Tigers and Candelario attempted to negotiate a new one-year contract ahead of the tender deadline, but the two sides didn’t get close to an agreement. The Tigers offered to sign Candelario at a cheaper rate than his projected $7 million salary.

Candelario played parts of six seasons with the Tigers and thrived in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, earning back-to-back Tiger of the Year awards. He hit .278 with 53 doubles, 23 home runs, a 10.2% walk rate, a 22.1% strikeout rate and a .356 on-base percentage in 201 games.

His 5.8 fWAR (FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement) ranked third among 114 third basemen from 2020-21, behind only José Ramírez (9.7 fWAR) and Manny Machado (6.9 fWAR).

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In 2022, Candelario experienced an extreme regression and struggled to create damage against four-seam fastballs. He hit .217 with 19 doubles, 13 home runs, a 6.0% walk rate and a 23.3% strikeout rate in 124 games, along with a .272 on-base percentage and a .633 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

The Nationals finished last in the National League East in each of the past two seasons. They went 65-97 in 2021, then 55-107 in 2022. If Candelario finds success, he will become a name to watch at the trade deadline as the Nationals continue their rebuild.

In July 2017, the Tigers acquired Candelario and Isaac Paredes from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Alex Avila and Justin Wilson. He played 563 games for the Tigers from 2018-22, more than any player on the team during the five-year span.

Now, Candelario is a National.

And the Tigers will continue searching for a third baseman to replace him.

Tigers re-sign four to MiLB deals

The Tigers re-signed four players to minor-league contracts: infielder Jermaine Palacios, utility player Brendon Davis, catcher Michael Papierski and right-handed reliever Miguel Díaz.

Those four players aren’t on the 40-man roster but will provide organizational depth in Triple-A Toledo. Díaz, who features an effective changeup with a high swing-and-miss rate, could play the biggest role in the big leagues next season.

Palacios and Papierski joined the Tigers from waiver claims earlier this offseason. The Tigers then removed both players — along with Davis and Díaz — from the 40-man roster in November. All four players became minor-league free agents and returned to the Tigers.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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