In 2023, the Reds have featured a lackluster defense, most notably at the shortstop position. Below-average defense is something that major league teams have come to accept from everyday players so long as their bat makes up for it. This isn't the case with the Reds shortstops.
The defensive play from veteran infielder Kevin Newman has been one of the worst on the entire Cincinnati Reds roster. He ranks dead last on the team with -6 defensive runs saved (DRS) per Fielding Bible.
Matt McLain should be called up to help solidify the Reds defense.
Only Rodolfo Castro (Pittsburgh Pirates), Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants), and Vaughn Grissom (Atlanta Braves) have a worse rating among shortstops. This defensive nightmare is too much for the Reds to handle, especially when it's combined with a bat that registers just a .230 average at the bottom of the batting order.
Jose Barrero has a spot on the Reds roster, but it probably isn't going to be at shortstop for much longer. Just like Newman, Barrero's defense this season has been below-average. Barrero is worth -4 DRS, which is ahead of only one player - Kevin Newman.
Barrero's future with the Reds, especially with all the infielders coming through the Cincinnati farm system, may be in the outfield. In 28 innings on the grass, Barrero's managed -1 DRS and 0 outs above average (OAA) according to FanGraphs.
Matt McLain is destined to make his major league debut later this season. While the fanbase is salivating over his production at the plate in Triple-A, his defense alone should warrant a call-up to the big leagues after watching Newman and Barrero combine to form one of the worse defensive duos in baseball.
If McLain can be even an average defender, he would bring the Reds an upgrade at the shortstop position. When you add in his bat as well, it seem like a no-brainer.