Position Two: Third Base
Players available (alphabetically):
Again, the idea of bringing back both Candelario and Cody Bellinger brings a smile to most Cubs fans' faces but the dollars may just not make sense. If that’s the case, the dollars that Matt Chapman has assuredly earned himself may make even less sense, but let’s talk through it and see what the options are.
Candelario fits what the Cubs do right now. He’s a career .244/.326/.414 hitter with 19 homers per 162 games played. He’s a career negative when it comes to dWAR and that profile just doesn’t equate to $20 million per year. I can’t see a world where someone doesn’t offer somewhere in the $15-20 million dollar range for him and the Cubs can’t afford to have that kind of money locked up in Candelario, Hoerner, Swanson, Happ, and Suzuki when none of the five of them project to have 30 home run power. It’s not all about power, but good teams have the ability to win a game or two with one swing and that guy just isn’t on this roster right now.
Chapman can be that power supply. He’s a career .243/.332/.467 hitter with an average of 30 homers per 162 games played and he’s an exceptional defender at third base with a career 11.9 dWAR. He’ll be entering his age-31 season but the idea of putting him in an infield of Gold Glovers like Swanson, Bellinger, Gomes, and potentially Hoerner moving forward is hard to not be excited about. That being said a power-hitting, Gold-Glove defending third baseman isn’t going to come cheap and therefore I’m not sure it makes sense for the Cubs to get involved in this bidding.
Evan Longoria is the most interesting name on this list. He’s old. He was already 30 when the Cubs won the World Series what feels like 100 years ago. He’ll be entering his age-38 season, but what he’d provide could be invaluable. The Cubs have Nick Madrigal at third base right now, learning the position. They project to potentially have Matt Shaw at some point next season to play third base. Who better to learn from than a career 13.5 dWAR player with a lifetime OPS over .800 and an average of 28 homers per 162 games played over his career?
Decision: Only spend here if you swing and miss on Bellinger, and if you miss on Bellinger swing big at Chapman. However, in a world where Bellinger re-signs then goes after Longoria as a bench bat/clubhouse guy (in the vein of what Eric Hosmer was to start this season) to a modest deal.