Cincinnati Reds: Kevin Newman should become primary trade target

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds talks to Kevin Newman #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates while standing at second base. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds talks to Kevin Newman #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates while standing at second base. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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While we’ve heard a lot of shortstop rumors over the past few weeks, one name that hasn’t yet emerged is Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Kevin Newman. However, Newman would be a great fit for the Cincinnati Reds heading into the 2021 season.

No, Newman isn’t going to put Cincinnati in the driver’s seat of the National League Central Division, but he’d certainly upgrade the team’s offensive profile and would allow top infield prospect José García to continue to develop within the farm system.

Kevin Newman could be the Reds answer at shortstop.

One of the reasons Reds Country hasn’t heard many trade rumors surrounding Kevin Newman is because the former first-round pick plays within the NL Central. It’s not often that rival teams make deals, but this could be one of those rare instances when it makes sense for both teams.

The Pirates are rebuilding. We’ve seen the Buccos trade Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove, and Jameson Taillon. Pittsburgh is retooling and looks willing to concede the division crown for the upcoming season and, realistically, into the next few years as well.

For the Reds, they’re looking for a stopgap option until García is ready to face major league pitching. The team showed great confidence in their young infielder last season, promoting him to The Show having not even played Double-A ball. However, the 22-year-old struggled and hit just .194 in 67 at-bats.

Kevin Newman is a bat-first shortstop who’s under team control through the 2024 season. Pre-arbitration eligible, making the league-minimum this season, Newman certainly fits well into Cincinnati’s cost-cutting budget.

Kevin Newman won’t win any Gold Gloves for the Reds.

If you’re looking for a defensive-minded shortstop, then Kevin Newman is not your guy. According to FanGraphs, Newman has -13 defensive runs saved (DRS) throughout his career and a -23.2 UZR/150 while playing shortstop. For his career, Newman is -13 outs above average (OAA) according to Baseball Savant. In short, you’re not getting a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop.

However, in a day and age when defensive shifts are the name of the game, a rangy, defensive-minded shortstop is not as necessary as it once was. Furthermore, Kyle Farmer was one of Cincinnati’s better infield defenders last season and could fill in on occasion. Alfredo Rodriguez could also be called upon to bring a defensive mindset to the shortstop position.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have an influx of infielders. Having recently signed Wilmer Difo, the Bucs now have former Washington Nationals second baseman, Newman, Adam Frazier, Erik Gonzalez, and Cole Tucker all competing for two spots. Key’Bryan Hayes will be the team’s every starter at third base in 2021.

Adding Kevin Newman wouldn’t cost the Reds a boatload of top prospects in a trade. In fact, Cincinnati may be able to surrender just a few mid-tier prospects in order to bring Newman to the Queen City. Amed Rosario and Willy Adames remain trade options as well, but perhaps Newman would be the better fit.