NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Infielder Jeimer Candelario and the Cincinnati Reds agreed on a three-year, $45 million contract Thursday, sources told ESPN, adding the veteran switch hitter to a plethora of young infielders as the Reds position themselves for a run at the National League Central title.
Candelario, 30, was non-tendered by the Detroit Tigers following the 2022 season but rebounded with a stellar 2023, setting career highs in home runs (22) and RBIs (70) while hitting .251/.336/.471 and playing first and third base for the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. His deal with the Reds includes a club option for $15 million in 2027, sources said.
He joins a Reds team that already features young infielders Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Noelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Jonathan India. Another infielder, Spencer Steer, is expected to move to left field, where he would complement outfielders TJ Friedl, Will Benson and Jake Fraley.
Candelario's deal, first reported by MLB.com, could free up Cincinnati to use its depth to pursue a trade for a pitcher, though the Reds already have added right-hander Nick Martinez to their rotation and right-hander Emilio Pagan to their bullpen on two-year deals.
Cincinnati's last postseason appearance in a full season came in 2013, and following an 82-80 performance in 2023, owner Bob Castellini said he intended to expand the Reds' payroll with hopes of usurping the incumbent division winner, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Cubs. The Reds, typically among the lowest-payroll teams, have guaranteed $87 million to free agents.
Multiple teams pursued Candelario this winter, looking at his versatility as well as his ability to hit from both sides of the plate as pluses. Over his eight-year career, Candelario has hit .243/.325/.414 with 88 home runs and 318 RBIs in 746 games.