Should the Detroit Tigers have actually kept Jeimer Candelario?
The Detroit Tigers have yet to find a suitable replacement for the Candy man
When the Detroit Tigers non-tendered Jeimer Candelario back in November, nobody was really surprised. He was coming off a very disappointing 2022 season and had lacked consistency throughout his career. Since he was due about $7 million in arbitration for the 2023 season, Scott Harris decided Candelario wasn't worth that amount of money for the production he could put up.
Well here we are, about to turn the calendar to February, and the Detroit Tigers *still* haven't found Candelario's replacement. Sure, they've made some moves for players that *could* play third base, like acquiring Nick Maton from the Phillies in the Gregory Soto deal and signing Cesar Hernandez to a minor league deal last week, but they have yet to acquire a bonafide big league third baseman, and with just a couple weeks until Spring Training, it seems they might not ever get one.
Now that we've reached this point, it's worth asking the question: should the Detroit Tigers have just paid Jeimer Candelario the $7 million and hope he bounces back? Hindsight is 20/20, but it sure seems like a better option right now that what they have, which is a whole lot of nothing.
If he were to struggle again, they could just simply DFA him, give the third base job to Maton or Ryan Kreidler and call it a day. He only had one more year left before becoming a free agent anyway. It would have been a low-risk move in the grand scheme of things.
If he had bounced back, the Tigers could have flipped him at the trade deadline instead of letting him walk for nothing. Keeping him wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world.
Additionally, keeping Candelario *and* making all the moves they would go on to make this offseason would sure look a heck of a lot better than what they ended up doing. Having all those players and what they already had internally as depth and insurance would sure make me feel a bit better about the team's infield situation, and I have a feeling many others would feel the same.
Candelario went on to sign a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals, where he will likely be their starting third baseman this season. The Nats are a rebuilding team that are also banking on Candy to bounce back so they can flip him at the trade deadline. The Tigers could have done the same thing.
The problem wasn't necessarily that they non-tendered Jeimer Candelario. It's that they didn't really have a plan to replace him, which is something to be legitimately frustrated with Scott Harris for.
My guess is he didn't have faith in to Candelario to bounce back, and therefore wasn't worth the money he was owed. That's fine, but you have to have a plan in place to find a replacement for him. Ryan Kreidler is not a good option. We're unsure about Nick Maton as an everyday player as well. It really seems like Harris fumbled the bag here.
I like the moves that he's made overall, but having Candy as the starting third baseman with the rest of the offseason move made as depth pieces would really make this team seem better on paper.