If you went back to 2019 and said the most valuable piece in the Cincinnati Reds offseason trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers would be Kyle Farmer, how many people would’ve believed you?
The trade, which occurred in December of 2018, was circled around a Homer Bailey salary dump, and former All-Star Yasiel Puig. Lefty Alex Young and an aging Matt Kemp were also a part of the return to Cincinnati.
The trade itself worked well for both sides. The Reds gave fans a major talking point for years to come with Farmer, and Puig ended up being flipped for Trevor Bauer who won the Reds first Cy Young Award in its franchise history. And for the Dodgers, they flipped Reds prospects into perennial All-Star Mookie Betts.
Trading Kyle Farmer has been a net-positive for the Reds.
Just a few months after the 2022 season ended, the Cincinnati Reds said farewell to the backup catcher turned starting shortstop. Now almost two months into the season, how has that trade fared?
First let’s look at Kyle Farmer with the Twins. Early in the season, Farmer landed himself on the Injured List after being hit in the face by a Lucas Giolito fastball. Since returning to the team on May 10th, the 32-year-old is off to one of his best starts.
Slashing .275/.337/.4396 with a 107 wRC+ per FanGraphs, Farmer has found himself in a nice rhythm as the Minnesota Twins third baseman.
Casey Legumina was the return piece to Cincinnati. A 26-year-old relief pitcher, Legumina made his major league debut with the Reds in late April, but has spent most of this season in the minors. In limited time on the big league club, Legumina has struggled. In just 10 innings he posted a 5.50 FIP.
The corresponding move the Cincinnati front office made was a trade with Pittsburgh for hot topic Kevin Newman. Newman was brought to Cincinnati in large part to be Farmer’s replacement. Not knowing what Jose Barrero was going to provide, Newman was a bridge to the young prospects on the rise.
To say Newman’s time in Cincinnati has been underwhelming would be putting it nicely. Per Baseball Reference Newman holds just a 79 OPS+. Among Reds batters with at least 100 at-bats this season, only Jose Barrero (69) and Wil Myers (44) have a lower OPS+.
It’s fair to say Minnesota won this trade. Of course, after acquiring Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Chase Petty in the Tyler Mahle and Sonny Gray trades, we owed them one.
The bright spot in the Farmer deal, along with the poor production from the shortstop position, is it made room for Matt McLain to break into the Cincinnati Reds roster. It’s hard to say if McLain would have had a shot if Farmer was still in town.
Kyle Farmer was a favorite for some in Cincinnati. It is nice to see him finding success in his new home. If the return the Reds got continues to not work out, at least they opened the door for the young guys to finally arrive.