The Chicago Cubs did not make a ton of moves at the 2023 trade deadline, but the few they did make are already paying off. The team has been hot in July and August and they need to stay that way down the stretch in order to make the playoffs in October. These two players have been doing their part to keep the team in the mix and their efforts should be commended.
1. 3B/1B Jeimer Candelario
I have to say, it's been pretty neat to see Jeimer Candelario back in a Cubs uniform. The team originally signed him as an international free agent way back in 2010 and he made his way to the active roster in 2016. Although he only collected 44 at-bats during his brief time with the team, Candelario was on the 40-man roster when the Cubs won the World Series so he received a ring and is credited as a member of the 2016 team.
At the 2017 trade deadline, Candelario was moved to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for catcher Alex Avila and reliever Justin Wilson. During his five seasons with the Tigers, Candelario became a capable big-league third baseman. He signed a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals prior to the season, and he was arguably the best bat on the market after the Cubs became buyers at the end of July.
Although his deal commanded two top-30 prospects (Kevin Made and DJ Herz), it has been well worth it so far. Since rejoining the Cubs, Candelario is slashing .339/.418/.508 with 5 doubles and 11 runs scored. More importantly, Candelario plays 1st and 3rd base which were two positions the team has needed a solid contributor at. Virtually, every first baseman the team has deployed has not panned out since Anthony Rizzo was traded. This year has featured the noble but dreadful efforts of Eric Hosmer, Trey Mancini, Jarred Young, and Matt Mervis. When Cody Bellinger is in the outfield - which isn't much any more thanks to the summer of Mike Tauchman - Candelario is a serviceable fill-in.
More importantly, Candelario is an above-average defender at third base that also swings a good bat. The Cubs have plenty of guys capable of handling the hot corner (Nick Madrigal, Patrick Wisdom, and Miles Mastrobuioni) but their bats are not sufficient enough. There is even chatter that the team should consider resigning Candelario in the offseason, which may not be a bad idea.