3 free agents the Cubs should re-sign - 2. Jeimer Candelario
After the trade deadline, Jeimer Cancelario started red-hot in a Cubs uniform. Then, before landing on the IL with a back strain, he spent the last 17 games going just 5-51. Of course, these numbers don't scream for somebody to be resigned, but if a back issue was flaring up, impacting his swing along the way, it's easy to understand what could have contributed to the lack of production. He has still managed 21 home runs and 69 RBIs on the season, but more importantly for the Cubs, he is an insurance policy.
Down on the farm, the Cubs have 2023 first-round draft pick, Matt Shaw, making waves in Double-A ball. Shaw is batting .364 overall with 7 HRs, 26 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases in 143 ABs on the season between High-A and Double-A. His OPS sits at 1.035. Adjusting for an entire season, his potential is through the roof, both offensively and defensively.
Shaw has already begun playing all over the infield, including third base in Double-A. Resigning Candelario and banking on his production when healthy paves the road for a top prospect like Shaw to transition smoothly. Shaw will spend most of next season between Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, so bringing Candelario back on a two-year deal is a feasible option that provides the Cubs stellar defense around the diamond and average, at worst, offensive production with upside for more until Shaw is ready.
The other third-base options in free agency this winter are Matt Chapman, Justin Turner (who the Cubs already passed on last winter), and other guys whom you'd rather keep Candelario anyway.
3 free agents the Cubs should re-sign - 1. Yan Gomes
Yan Gomes has benefited the Cubs in all facets this season. Set to have a club option worth just six million this winter, it's nearly a no-brainer for the front office to keep him around for 2024. For one, he's slashing .274/.315/.416 with nine home runs and 52 driven in, including a line of .265/.288/.427 in later stages of the games based on innings 7-9, he's also been a fantastic game-caller behind the plate for the team. Check out these ERA's for Cubs pitchers with Gomes behind the dish:
- Justin Steele: 1.94 ERA in 97.2 IP
- Javier Assad: 2.13 ERA in 55 IP
- Adbert Alzolay: 2.53 ERA in 42.2 IP
- Mark Leiter Jr.: 1.71 ERA 31.2 IP
- Julian Merryweather: 3.23 ERA in 39 IP
- Jordan Wicks 1.50 ERA in 6 IP (small sample)
That accounts for the three most productive starters as of late and the back end of the bullpen. Marcus Stroman worked more with Tucker Barnhart before he ran into injury issues, and Hendricks primarily works with Miguel Amaya.
Speaking of Amaya, it's important to note that he should receive a more significant role with the team moving forward, assuming he now stays healthy. Gomes is the perfect segway for Amaya to take over full-time duties as time progresses. Although Gomes has had a bit of a down year in catcher's caught stealing above average and catcher-framed runs (both at -2), he obviously works well with pitchers. Given the importance of a strong pitching staff, Gomes fits the mold of someone who needs to be around for next year.