Cincinnati Reds trade Kyle Farmer to Twins, add Kevin Newman

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Facing a potential $6 million decision with infielder Kyle Farmer, who is eligible for arbitration this offseason, the Cincinnati Reds traded him to the Minnesota Twins for minor league pitcher Casey Legumina on Friday.

It’s another popular player who departs the Reds, a team coming off a 100-loss season and still leaning heavily into a rebuild. The deal comes on the same day as MLB’s deadline to guarantee contracts for the 2023 season.

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As a replacement for Farmer, the Reds acquired infielder Kevin Newman in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for reliever Dauri Moreta. From the Reds’ perspective, trading Farmer cleared some salary for potential additions and he may have ceded playing time next season for top shortstop prospects pushing toward the majors.

“I had conversations with (Farmer’s) agent,” Reds General Manager Nick Krall said. “We were talking about different fits and how he fits here versus some other places. For us, it just made some sense. We like Casey Legumina a lot with the Twins. He started, went to the bullpen in the middle of the year, stuff ticked up and he has a chance to be a quality big league reliever. We tried to take our shot and this also gives us a bit of financial flexibility.”

The 32-year-old Farmer became a clubhouse leader for the Reds after they had several trade departures over the last calendar year. He was initially considered the throw-in piece in a seven-player trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that netted Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood and Matt Kemp, but he made the biggest impact with the Reds and spent four seasons in the organization.

“Heart and soul of our team,” Reds second baseman Jonathan India tweeted, “love you bro.”

Said Krall: “I think Kyle is a tremendous player, a tremendous guy. He really embedded himself into Cincinnati. Everybody really likes Kyle. We all do. It was a tough conversation to have when I called him.”

Farmer transformed from a utility player/third catcher on the roster to a starting shortstop, a position he always thought he could play but few coaches gave him the opportunity. He shored up the position when the Reds made a push for the wild-card spot in 2021 and remained the starting shortstop throughout the first four months last season.

During the 2022 season, Farmer hit .255 with 14 homers, 25 doubles and 78 RBI in 145 games. He was the Reds’ only player who played more than 110 games.  

The Reds had no plans of releasing Farmer if they didn’t find a suitable deal, Krall confirmed, but the club had trade conversations about him throughout the past month. Once the Reds decided to trade Farmer, they turned to Newman as an addition.

Newman hit .274 with two homers, 18 doubles and 24 RBI in 78 games this year. Like Farmer, Newman can play shortstop and hit well against left-handed pitching. Newman doesn’t strike out often, but he produces little power. The 29-year-old Newman is eligible for arbitration and could command a salary around $3 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors’ projections.

“Similar players, just doing it a little bit differently,” Krall said. “Kyle was transitioning more to the corner. Newman stayed more in the middle, a little bit more rangy. Kyle is a little bit more offensive. We’re just looking for a different fit and Newman just kind of fit better.”

Farmer, who carried a $3.155 million salary last season, is under team control through the 2024 season. He was one of the league’s better hitters against left-handed pitching last season, batting .309 against them with a .948 OPS compared to a .235 batting average and .611 versus righties.

In return for Farmer, the Reds picked up Legumina, a right-handed pitcher the Twins added to their 40-man roster earlier this week. Legumina spent most of last season at Double-A with a 4.93 ERA in 73 innings while striking out 76 and walking 32. After shifting from starter to reliever in mid-August, he had a 2.55 ERA and three saves with 26 strikeouts and six walks in 17 2/3 innings.

Legumina, 25, is known for a sharp slider and a mid-90s fastball. They essentially swapped Moreta, who had a 5.40 ERA across 35 relief appearances in his rookie season, for Legumina as bullpen depth.

“We’ve liked him for a while,” Krall said of Legumina. “He was probably in (trade) conversations at some point over the last year. He played Double-A this year, probably goes to Triple-A, but has a chance to come in and win a spot with the big league roster.”

Along with the two trades, the Reds removed reliever Daniel Duarte and outfielder Allan Cerda from their 40-man roster. Both players agreed to return on minor league contracts. Duarte made the 2022 Opening Day roster, but made only three appearances before he was sidelined by an elbow injury. Cerda split the season in High-A and Double-A.

Reliever Buck Farmer, one of the Reds’ six arbitration-eligible players, agreed to a one-year, $1.725 million contract for the 2023 season to avoid arbitration.

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