Reds expect newest addition to make an ‘impact’

Jeimer Candelario, who agreed to a three-year deal last week, officially introduced

CINCINNATI — Jeimer Candelario knows exactly what he’s getting into — and he’s ready for the challenge.

The switch-hitting corner infielder was officially introduced on Tuesday morning as the newest Cincinnati Red during a media session at Great American Ball Park. He is expected to at least help replace at first base franchise icon Joey Votto, who left as a free agent after the 2023 season after a 17-year career that left him among the top five in many categories and poised to be inducted at some point into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.

Candelario, an eight-year veteran who turned 30 on Nov. 24, feels prepared to handle the transition.

“There will always be pressure,” the New York City native said. “You’ve just got to handle it. You just have to play the position and have a routine. I want to be ready to help the team win.”

Candelario and Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall sat together on a platform in The Handlebar special section down the right field line for a session attended by media members and franchise employees, including Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini and President and Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini. Also on hand were Candelario’s wife Adreina, 3-year-old daughter Alaya and 10-month-old daughter Abigail, mother Hilda Rosario, father Rogelio Candelario and agent Paul Kinzer.

Jeimer Candelario is a career .243 hitter with 88 home runs and 318 RBI. He signed a three-year contract worth a guaranteed $45 million with a $15 million club option for 2027.

“Jeimer is an exceptional player who can impact games offensively and with his glove,” Krall said. “His versatility and leadership add to his value as an important asset to our team.

“I have to give credit to our ownership group for giving us a chance to add a player who can make an impact.”

“My approach at the plate is being aggressive in the zone, getting my walks and trying to create good at bats,” Candelario said. “That’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to be on base to help your team win. For me, I like to be on second. I want to be able to be in a great position on the bases to create runs.

“We’ve got a lot of runners here. We can do some damage.”

Along with the earlier additions of free-agent pitchers Nick Martinez and Emilio Pagán, the signing of Candelario means the Reds have made the franchise’s biggest off-season splash since the team committed a combined $165 million to five free agents — outfielders Shogo Akiyama and Nick Castellanos, infielder Mike Moustakas and pitchers Wade Miley and Pedro Strop before the 2020 season.

Krall hinted that the Reds might not be done adding players, especially pitchers.

“We’re looking at all the markets,” he said. “As of right now, we just haven’t something that’s clicked for us.”

Cincinnati has committed a minimum of $87 million to this year’s crop of free agents with the most going to Candelario.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Candelario said. “It’s a big opportunity. It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to helping the team win.”

He joins an infield that already includes Christian Encarnacion-Strand — like Candelario, primarily a corner infielder — as well as shortstop Elly De La Cruz, Jonathan India, Matt McLain, Noelvi Marte and Jose Barrero. Marte ended the 2023 season as Cincinnati’s primary third baseman. McLain played second base and shortstop before he suffered a season-ending injury. India dealt with plantar fasciitis issues. Barrero was disappointing enough at the plate to spend most of the season with Triple-A Louisville.

Spencer Steer, voted by members of the Cincinnati chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America as the team’s Most Valuable Player for a 2023 team that improved by 20 wins over 2022, is listed as an infielder on the Reds roster, but he’s expected to be moved to left field.

Krall suspects the glut will sort itself out.

“Look at the infield,” he said. “We have Christian, who missed the first part of the year with an injury in Triple-A. We have Elly, who missed the first part of last year. India got hurt. McLain missed the last part of the year. Marte is hurt right now (hamstring).

“You use all of your players. Getting more impact into our lineup is going to be helpful for us.”

About the Author