The Tigers announced after tonight’s game that they’ve optioned third baseman Jeimer Candelario to Triple-A Toledo. A corresponding roster move will be announced tomorrow, per the team.
It’s a disappointing turn of events for the 25-year-old Candelario, whom the Tigers hoped could solidify himself as their third baseman of the future. Acquired in the 2017 trade that sent Justin Wilson to the Cubs, Candelario burst onto the scene in Detroit late that summer, hitting .330/.406/.468 down in 106 plate appearances down the stretch. While the 2018 season was an uneven one for the switch-hitter, he still managed to swat 19 homers, 28 doubles and three triples.
The 2019 season simply hasn’t been a good one for Candelario, who went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in tonight’s game. He’s hitting .192/.285/.288 with a still-strong 10.9 percent walk rate but an elevated 27.9 percent strikeout rate. More troubling is that Candelario’s power has simply evaporated. He’s hitting more line-drives and fly-balls than he did in 2018 but hasn’t seen the corresponding uptick in exit velocity or hard-hit rate that one would prefer to accompany such trends.
With Candelario down in Toledo for a reset, the door will open for hot-hitting Ronny Rodriguez to see more reps at third base. The 27-year-old utilityman has turned in a blistering .296/.341/.667 batting line with six homers, eight doubles and a pair of triples through just 88 plate appearances since joining the Tigers this year. He’s seen action all around the infield, but the demotion of Candelario opens a clear path to regular at-bats and a regular position for Detroit should they prefer to provide him with a more stable role. Of course, Rodriguez has thrived in a jack-of-all-trades capacity, so it’s possible that while he’ll see an uptick in time at the hot corner he’ll still also be used to spell others around the infield.