Less than two hours after the Cincinnati Reds traded Kyle Farmer to the Minnesota Twins the team turned around and acquired another utility infielder to replace him as they picked up Kevin Newman from the Pittsburgh Pirates according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Reds are sending reliever Dauri Moreta back to Pittsburgh to complete the deal.
The 29-year-old Newman has played in the big leagues in parts of the last five seasons – all for the Pirates. In 2018 he managed just 97 plate appearances and a .478 OPS. The next year he broke out and hit .308/.353/.446 in 531 plate appearances. Since then things have been rough for the infielder. In 2020 and 2021 he posted an OPS of .556 and .574. In 2022 he improved a bit, hitting .274/.316/.372 with two home runs in 309 plate appearances. After striking out just 41 times in 554 plate appearances in 2021 he struck out 48 times last season in nearly 254 fewer trips to the dish.
A solid defender who can play shortstop, second, or third base, Kevin Newman can cover several spots on the field for you. There are big questions about whether or not he can hit, though. For his career he’s posted a 79 OPS+. He’s hit for a solid average twice, but never shown any sort of power and only in 2019 did he show any sort of idea that he could make a pitcher worry about throwing him a strike.
MLB Trade Rumors projected Kevin Newman to make $2.8M in arbitration for next season. That’s less than half of what Kyle Farmer was set to make. Farmer, though, is a better hitter than Newman has been for his career. Newman is entering his second year of arbitration and won’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season.
What this means for the Reds at shortstop heading into spring training isn’t quite known. Kyle Farmer saw most of the action at the position in 2022, but Jose Barrero saw more action at the spot in the second half. Farmer is gone and Barrero flat out didn’t hit at any point in 2022 – whether we’re talking about the minors or the majors. While he did deal with a broken hamate early in the year that led to him missing spring training and the start of the season, he never got anything going once he did get on the field and has plenty of questions he has to answer. The same thing can be said of Newman who doesn’t exactly project to hit enough to start.
On the farm the Reds shortstop position is the strongest it may have ever been. With that said, none of the top prospects have played a single game at Triple-A, with Elly De La Cruz playing half a season in Double-A, Matt McLain playing a full year there, and everyone else being lower than the Double-A level.
As for Dauri Moreta, it will be interesting to see what happens with him moving forward. He struggled in the first couple of weeks of the 2022 season and was sent to Triple-A Louisville. After he returned on June 19th he threw 24.2 innings with a 2.92 ERA, a WHIP of 1.17, a .601 OPS against, and allowed runs in just three of his 20 appearances.