By JAY COHEN AP Baseball Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Jeimer Candelario felt right at home in his return to the Chicago Cubs.
A day after he was acquired in a trade with Washington, Candelario started at first base and batted sixth for Tuesday night’s game against Cincinnati. He got a warm ovation when he came to the plate in the first inning, and he reached on an infield single in each of his first two at-bats.
Veteran first baseman Trey Mancini was designated for assignment to make room for Candelario on the roster.
Chicago got Candelario and cash from Washington for minor league left-hander DJ Herz and infielder Kevin Made. The 29-year-old Candelario hit .258 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs in 99 games with the Nationals.
Fighting for a playoff spot in the crowded NL standings, the Cubs were mostly quiet Tuesday ahead of the trade deadline. They sent minor league right-handers Adrian Sampson and Manuel Rodríguez, along with international signing bonus pool space, to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor league right-hander Josh Roberson.
“We tried really hard,” President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer said. “We were definitely in on a lot of guys but not all deals come together. Candy was certainly the priority and the one we went after the hardest and were most aggressive on.”
The matchup with the Reds was Candelario’s first big league action at first base since 2020 with Detroit. He was charged with an error on TJ Friedl’s second-inning grounder, allowing Tyler Stephenson to score.
“He’s actually rated higher by some of our metrics at first than third so he’s a good athlete,” Cubs manager David Ross said before the game. “He had better metrics over there than Trey did so it feels like a little bit of an upgrade defensively as well.”
Candelario signed with Chicago in 2010 and made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2016. He was traded to Detroit with fellow infielder Isaac Paredes for catcher Alex Avila and reliever Justin Wilson at the 2017 deadline.
During his first stint in Chicago, Candelario was teammates with Ross.
“When we were growing up in baseball, it’s always great to get to know your teammates,” Candelario said. “Now my old teammate is my manager. It’s different but at the same time we got to make it happen.”
Candelario signed a $5 million, one-year contract with the Nationals after he was non-tendered by Detroit in November. Now he is looking to make a playoff push with his first big league club.
“We have everything we need to compete with any team and to dominate. We got to do that,” he said.
The 31-year-old Mancini finalized a $14 million, two-year contract with Chicago in January. He batted .234 with four homers and 28 RBIs in 79 games with the Cubs.