Pittsburgh Pirates: The Time is Now to Move Gold-Glove Nominee Kevin Newman

(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to have a logjam at the middle infield positions.  Could they make a move to help clear up some space?

Entering the 2021 Trade Deadline the Pittsburgh Pirates were expected to be one of the more active teams.  The Team had plenty of rental players to trade away and did so.  However, many believed that the Pittsburgh Pirates could have made even more moves with some of their controllable players.

The most obvious name that fell into this category was Jacob Stallings.  Stallings is on the wrong side of 30 and realistically will not be an everyday catcher by the time the team is ready to compete.  Still, it is hard to envision a Stallings trade, especially someone who has really taken to the new culture of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Even more so, he is known as one of the best defenders in baseball and has a great reputation for working with young arms.

Another name that popped up in rumors was Kevin Newman.  Newman has a similar resume to Stallings.  He will be a free agent by the time the Bucs are ready to complete, but he also brings Gold Glove defense.  In fact, Newman was named one of the National League Gold Glove finalists for the position.

So why move on from a Gold Glove defender?  Well for starters everyone knows there are a lot more talented players who will play the position eventually.  Newman is very limited offensively.  He more or less has no power in the box and relies heavily on getting on-base at a high clip.  If he is not finding holes and walking then he is likely not bringing much to the plate.

Also, the Pittsburgh Pirates are facing a 40-man roster crunch this offseason.  Currently, the team is projected to exceed the 40-man roster with the current players on it along with the players on the long-term IL.  It is more likely that the team will reduce their 40-man roster by letting go of players.  However, the team likely will complete a few trades as well to help clear up space.  Remember Rule-V eligible players will need to be added to the 40-man over the next few weeks to protect them from being taken by an opposing team.

Why would the Pittsburgh Pirates want to hold onto him?  Newman is entering his first year of arbitration meaning he will no longer be making the league minimum.  He is projected to receive around $2,500,000 for the 2022 season.  While that is not a lot, Newman’s value can actually be helped by the smaller dollar amount. In the same sense, he is very affordable for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In total, Kevin Newman is a solid player with not much upside.  He is a very good defender likely capable of handling multiple infield and even if need be a few outfield spots.  Obviously, the value is going to be had in his elite shortstop defense and his contract.  If a team is looking to improve their infield defense and have a controllable player, then Newman could be the answer.

The same could be said for any contenders who are looking to improve their bench.  Many big market teams will be pushing up against the luxury tax threshold, Newman is the type of player that a big-market team could add and hope to use as a versatile bench piece.

dark. Next. Potential Starting Pitching Target

While he will not net the Pittsburgh Pirates a ton in a trade, there really is no reason to keep him going forward.  As Ben Cherington alluded to in a recent interview, he does not want to take opportunities away from the younger players entering 2022.  With middle infielders like Cole Tucker, Rodolfo Castro, Oneil Cruz, Hoy Park, and Diego Castillo all essentially MLB ready, it just seems counterproductive to make him a lock on the roster next season. Why not sell high on him now when he is up for the Gold Glove, his value probably will never be higher.