The Pirates have traded INF Kevin Newman to the Reds, pending results of a physical KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt

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Friday, November 18, 2022

The Pirates have traded INF Kevin Newman to the Reds, pending results of a physical

The Pirates’ biggest question coming into the non-tender deadline regarded the status of Kevin Newman. Would they tender him, or would they non-tender him and lean into the youth movement? The answer: a tender and a trade.

Pittsburgh tendered Newman a contract for the 2023 season, then subsequently traded the infielder to the Reds in exchange for right-hander Dauri Moreta, the team announced Friday.

Additionally, Pittsburgh announced that it has agreed to a 2023 contract with outfielder Miguel Andújar, which is worth $1.525 million, a source told Feinsand. The club announced it tendered contracts to infielder Ji-Man Choi and right-handers JT Brubaker, Mitch Keller, Robert Stephenson and Duane Underwood Jr.

While none of the Pirates’ arbitration-eligible players were non-tendered, Pittsburgh elected to effectively non-tender left-hander Manny Bañuelos and catcher Tyler Heineman, both of whom were designated for assignment on Tuesday.

Moreta experienced his struggles as a rookie, but he features an enticing arsenal. He finished last season in the 84th percentile of fastball velocity and had a 26.0% whiff percentage on his four-seamer. Moreta’s slider generated a 48.9% whiff percentage as well. General manager Ben Cherington and manager Derek Shelton both discussed the need to add more swing-and-miss threats to the bullpen, and the acquisition of Moreta could be a step in that direction.

He held the role for the next couple seasons, but his offensive productivity wilted. Newman had well below-average numbers in both 2020-21, combining to hit just .226/.268/.302 through 726 plate appearances. Even with strong defensive metrics in 2021, his overall production hovered right around replacement level. The rebuilding Bucs continued to give him opportunities, however, and he righted the ship enough this year they managed to find a trade partner.

The 29-year-old posted a .274/.316/.372 mark over 309 plate appearances this past season. He lost over two months to a left groin strain mid-year, but his rate production was his best since 2019. The righty hitter’s overall offensive profile hasn’t much changed throughout his career. Newman makes a ton of contact, putting the ball in play early in counts to suppress both his strikeout and walk totals. He has very little power, with just 20 career home runs — 12 of which came during a 2019 season that saw arguably the liveliest ball in league history. He’s reliant on a quality batting average on balls in play to prop up his numbers but looks like a decent bottom-0f-the-lineup option when enough singles drop in.

Newman’s calling card is his ability to play up the middle. He’s logged over 2500 big league innings at shortstop, typically rating at or a bit below league average. He drew quality marks in 2021, but for his career, he’s been an estimated nine runs below average according to Defensive Runs Saved and six runs below par in the estimation of Statcast. Public metrics have rated him slightly below average in just under 800 career frames at second base as well.

The presence of Oneil Cruz in Pittsburgh displaced Newman at shortstop. The Bucs could’ve relied upon him at second base, but they may prefer to take a longer look at 23-year-old Rodolfo Castro with an eye towards eventually turning things to a prospect like Nick Gonzales or Liover Peguero.

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