The front office of the Pittsburgh Pirates has slowly replaced players from the previous regime. Should their shortstop be next?
The Pittsburgh Pirates have several middle infield prospects competing for time in spring training. Players like Oneil Cruz, Rodolfo Castro, Hoy Park, and Michael Chavis are all infielders who need to get at-bats this year. So what should the team do with Kevin Newman? Trade him or keep him?
In 2021 Newman only hit for a .574 OPS, .249 wOBA, and 54 wRC+. All three marks were the worst among all qualified major leaguers in 2021. Newman’s inability to make hard contact yet again held him back.
Newman had just an 85.3 MPH exit velocity and a 26% hard-hit rate. Both marks were in the bottom third percentile of all batters. The underlying numbers didn’t paint a better picture either. He was also in the bottom third percentile of xwOBA and the bottom 6th percentile of xSLG.
On the plus side, Newman had his first above-average season with the leather. Newman was a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop after racking up +7 defensive runs saved, +3 outs above average, and +5.2 UZR/150. This was a massive step forward from 2019-2020 where he had -10 DRS, -10 Outs Above Average, and -12.4 UZR/150.
In all reality, if the Pittsburgh Pirates trade Newman it will not impact their future. Dealing with him would not be about the return, probably low-level prospects, but opening the door for the prospects to play. Also if they are going to go with a veteran player Cole Tucker gives more upside.
There are several teams that could have interest in Newman. The big time shortstop market is quickly drying up and teams looking to add something to the position after missing out on the top players could circle the Bucs. Some teams that could be interested are the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies, and the San Diego Padres