Opening Day Starter
Right now, Kevin Newman would be the Opening Day shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates. With service time still a thing, the Pirates have no reason to start Oneil Cruz or Diego Castillo, the organization’s best MLB-ready middle infield options, on the 26-man roster.
Now that’s not to say that Newman is a great option, but a good enough placeholder for the rest of the Pirates’ middle infielders. You can live with Newman’s bat for a month until the boatload of middle infield prospects is ready. Cruz Castillo are just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s also not to say that Newman would keep the position. As I stated earlier, he’d be a solid enough placeholder. He wouldn’t be the team’s starting shortstop for the entirety of the 2022 season. With the number of middle infielders the Pittsburgh Pirates have, Newman doesn’t have to be great for the time being. Continue playing him for the first few weeks of the season, then get the prospects up.
The biggest downside is that you still have to live with his awful bat as a regular part of the line-up for a month. Sure, he might be good enough, but just barely. If his bat regresses even further or his defense takes a step back from last season, you’re stuck with a well below replacement level player starting for the first few weeks of the season.