By: Will Burchfield
The Justin Wilson sweepstakes have been decided.
The Tigers dealt Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs late Sunday night for 23-year-old third baseman Jeimer Candelario and 18-year-old shortstop Isaac Paredes. The Cubs will also send the Tigers a player to be named later or cash.
The trade was confirmed by multiple reports.
Per MLB.com pipeline, Candelario was the No. 1 prospect in the Cubs organization and Paredes was No. 10. Baseball America has the two flipped, with Paredes No. 5 and Candelario No. 9. Either way, the consensus on Candelario is that he’s close to contributing at the major-league level.
A switch hitter, he’s batting .266 with 12 home runs, 52 RBI and an .868 OPS in 81 games in Triple-A this season. He made his MLB debut earlier this year, picking up five hits, including one home run, in 11 games.
Candelario had little future with the Cubs, though, with Kris Bryant entrenched at third base.
According to MLB.com pipeline, “Candelario is a talented offensive player who could start for several clubs…With a fluid stroke from both sides of the plate, he makes consistent hard contact and draws a healthy amount of walks. Most of his power has come in the form of doubles to this point, but he could develop into a 20-homer threat.”
Candelario is considered an average defensive third baseman with good instincts at the hot corner. He’s also logged some time in the minors at first base.
Paredes, meanwhile, is more of a project. The 18-year-old is still in Class-A, where he’s hitting .264 with seven home runs and a .744 OPS in 92 games. It remains to be seen where his future lies in the infield, but Paredes has drawn strong reviews as a hitter.
Per MLB.com pipeline, “He has enough loft and bat speed from the right side of the plate to develop into a 15-homer threat. He also has a good feel for hitting, already showing the ability to control the strike zone and use the whole field.”
One source told the Free Press that Paredes has the profile of former power-hitting second baseman Dan Uggla.
Most scouting reports agree that Paredes will have to move from shortstop, although Jose Flores, the Cubs’ infield coordinator, spoke highly of the youngster’s defensive ability in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune.
“For a kid who just turned 18, he’s one of our best shortstops in the minor leagues right now. He’s got the ability … to be a very smart infielder. You see him positioning himself according to counts and hitters’ tendencies during an at-bat. He makes adjustments that way. He doesn’t impress you with physical ability, but he’s there to make every play,” said Flores.
It should be noted that neither Candelario nor Paredes is considered a top-100 prospect in baseball.
The Tigers are working hard to improve the positional depth in their farm system. They also acquired three infielders from the Diamondbacks in exchange for J.D. Martinez earlier this month. At the time, one of those players — Dawel Lugo — was thought to be the Tigers’ third baseman of the future, with Nicholas Castellanos eventually making the move to first base.
It appears Candelario has supplanted Lugo in that regard. However, for Candelario to start at third base next season, the Tigers would likely have to release Victor Martinez, allowing Miguel Cabrera to make the full-time move to designated hitter.
Wilson was one of the most sought-after relievers on the trade market. The 29-year-old, who’s under team control through 2018, has a 2.68 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in 42 appearances this season. Per the Free Press, the Astros, National and Dodgers were all in on him until the finish.