Needless to say, it was a curious decision by the Cincinnati Reds front office from the outset. A club, fresh off a 100-loss campaign for only the second time in their long history, trading for a 29-year-old shortstop who compiled a well below average .260/.303/.356 slash line in five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
However, that's exactly what Reds General Manager Nick Krall received in acquiring Kevin Newman from their division rivals in a deal for right-handed reliever Dauri Moreta last November.
Considering that four of the ball club's top five prospects in the minors all have experience at shortstop, and that's not including Jose Barrero, this was destined to be a short stay for Newman. But the question begs, why is he here at all?
Reds should option Kevin Newman, not Jose Barrero, to make room for Matt McLain.
Despite the impressive week the Redlegs just concluded, the 2023 campaign is going to look more like 2022 than the 2021 winning season. The chances of Kevin Newman being a part of the next competitive Reds squad are less than slim-to-none. Additionally, if there was ever a glimmer of hope of him transforming into the next Brandon Drury, it's obvious those dreams have vanished.
For a club that is second from the bottom in the National League in slugging at .362, a much-needed boost to the lineup from a power perspective is desperately needed. History strongly indicates Newman is not the answer. The former 2015 first-round selection has a combined 10 homers since launching a career-high 12 round-trippers during the 2019 season.
All of this is not to say that Jose Barrero is the answer. Granted, there have been signs of improvement to open the season from the highly-touted Cuban, as both his strikeout and base-on-ball rates are much better than a year ago.
However, he's still slashing an anemic .217/.295/.319 with a -0,6 bWAR. That's not going to get it done either. As a result, the only true advantage Barrero holds over Newman is that he's four years younger at 25 years of age.
What the club needs to do is stop delaying the inevitable and get Matt McLain on the big league roster. The 2021 first-round pick from UCLA is destroying Triple-A pitching at Louisville. Compiling a ridiculous .315/.445/.618 slash line with seven homers and as many stolen bases, McLain is precisely the type of player that could energize a power-depleted offense.
It's time for Cincinnati to accelerate the youth movement and get their core pieces for the future to the Queen City. We know Kevin Newman is not going to be around to witness a Cincinnati Reds resurgence, but it's time to see what type of role Matt McLain may play in helping the Reds return to a playoff-caliber ball club.