Nats deal Candelario for pair of Cubs' Top 20 prospects

August 1st, 2023

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals followed their recent Trade Deadline trend and swapped a veteran on an expiring contract for prospects.

Washington acquired shortstop and left-hander DJ Herz from Chicago in exchange for third baseman . Made and Herz are now ranked as the Nationals’ No. 16 and No. 17 prospects, respectively, per MLB Pipeline.

Cubs receive: 3B Jeimer Candelario
Nationals receive: SS Kevin Made, LHP DJ Herz

Candelario, 29, returns to where he began his Major League career, having debuted with the Cubs in 2016. 

“He was awesome,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who worked with Candelario as a member of the Cubs’ coaching staff. “He was everything I expected and more. He did well for us, and we’ll miss him.”

Candelario, who signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Nationals in November, was the Nats' top trade candidate this season. He was out of the lineup on Monday, with Martinez explaining, “Obviously, it’s that time of year.” Candelario, a popular leader in the clubhouse, talked with teammates Monday afternoon at his locker before going through pregame work on the field. The players found out about the trade prior to their 5-3 win over the Brewers

“There was speculation, you heard the rumors of a possible trade, so it didn’t catch me necessarily off guard,” Joey Meneses said. “Most of us were kind of waiting for it. We are going to miss him. He is a great player, a great teammate, a great person. … I wish him all the best with his career and now with his new team.”

Made, 20, was playing for High-A South Bend, for whom he was slashing .240/.328/.355 with a .683 OPS in 70 games. He has been noted for his arm and advanced bat-to-ball skills. Made signed with the Cubs for $1.5 million in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic, and he was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 11 player in that international signing class.

Herz, 22, went 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in 14 starts with Double-A Tennessee this season. In his past two starts, he has held opponents to a .065 batting average with an 0.90 ERA. Herz is lauded for his curveball, and his fastball reaches 96 mph. An eighth-round pick of the Cubs in 2019, he was named Chicago’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in ‘21 by MLB Pipeline.

Candelario was expected to be traded given his contract status and turnaround season. He is slashing .258/.342/.481 with 30 doubles. With that, he leads all National League third basemen in doubles, extra-base hits and fWAR. Candelario also is second in wOBA and wRC+, third in OPS and fourth in slugging percentage. He also provided a valuable veteran presence to a young Nationals squad.

The Nationals will have to fill the starting third-base role, and they are expected to make a roster move on Tuesday. Utility infielders Ildemaro Vargas and Michael Chavis can play the hot corner, while Triple-A Rochester utility player Jake Alu is on Washington’s 40-man roster. Alu debuted on May 9 and appeared in five games for the Nats this season. 

“It opens up an opportunity for somebody else,” said Martinez. “We’ll start working with the next guy up here and try to get him playing time and getting used to playing in the Major Leagues.” 

The Nationals have had success making similar moves at recent Trade Deadlines. In addition to blockbuster trades with the Dodgers and Padres, the Nats acquired right fielder Lane Thomas (from the Cardinals for Jon Lester), reliever Mason Thompson (Padres, Daniel Hudson) and catcher Riley Adams (Blue Jays, Brad Hand) for expiring contracts.