Since the offseason began, we’ve been wondering whether the Reds will tender a contract to infielder Kyle Farmer. We now know the Reds will not — but the Minnesota Twins will.
Ahead of the non-tender deadline on Friday evening, the Reds traded Farmer to the Twins for right-handed pitcher Casey Legumina.
The decision to move on from Farmer came down to money more than anything else. Farmer will enter his second year of arbitration in 2023, and he’s projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $5.9 million. Additionally, Farmer — who turned 32 in August — was not likely to start for the Reds next year as the younger Spencer Steer and Jose Barrero look poised to serve as the everyday third baseman and shortstop, respectively. Mike Moustakas, if he isn’t released, will also see time at third base when he isn’t the designated hitter.
The decision, then, came down to whether the Reds were willing to pay around $6 million to a utility bench player. The answer, apparently, was no. The presence of the versatile Matt Reynolds, who will make the big-league minimum in 2023, likely made the Reds’ decision easier. Several shortstop prospects are approaching the big leagues as well. Matt McLain and Elly De La Cruz both finished 2022 in Double-A and could make their MLB debuts in 2023.
Farmer, who came to Cincinnati as little more than a throw-in piece in the Homer Bailey salary-dump trade to the Dodgers, wound up proving more valuable than any of the other three players the Reds acquired in that deal. Although he was far from a star, Farmer brought value by playing all over the field and eventually stepping into the starting shortstop role in 2021 and 2022. By all accounts, he was a respected leader in the clubhouse, too. He finishes his Reds career with a .255/.311/.397 slash line, 39 home runs, and an 87 wRC+ in four seasons.
The Twins have been a popular trade partner for Reds general manager Nick Krall, as this is the third deal the two clubs have made this year. Farmer will join his former Reds teammates Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle in the Twin Cities.
Meet Casey Legumina
The Reds could have non-tendered Farmer, but they found a team willing to give up a player to acquire him.
Legumina is a 25-year-old, right-handed pitcher who had just been added to the Twins’ 40-man roster on Tuesday. He was the 27th-rated prospect in the Twins organization by MLB Pipeline and unranked by Baseball America. Legumina pitched at Gonzaga, and although his final college season was cut short due to Tommy John surgery, he was selected by the Twins in the eighth round of the 2019 draft. He returned to the mound successfully in 2021, posting a 3.02 ERA, 3.53 FIP, and 3.45 xFIP in 44.2 innings at Low-A and earning a late-season spot start in High-A.
Legumina started the 2022 campaign in High-A, making just three starts before he was promoted to Double-A. The results were inconsistent, as Legumina had a 4.93 ERA, 5.11 FIP, and 5.09 xFIP in 73 innings. He was moved to a relief role in August, though that may have been partly to preserve his arm in just his second season back from Tommy John surgery. Legumina pitched much better in a relief role, posting a 2.55 ERA and 3.30 FIP along with strong strikeout and walk rates (34.2% and 7.9%, respectively).
Legumina throws a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. His fastball gets very high spin and sits in the mid-90s, although it’s reasonable to assume his velocity ticks up in a relief role. The slider is considered his best pitch, giving him a strong one-two punch if he’s moved to the bullpen permanently.
Ahead of the Rule 5 protection deadline on Tuesday, the Reds designated six players for assignment. Outfielder Aristides Aquino and relievers Derek Law, Jeff Hoffman, Art Warren, Kyle Dowdy, and Jared Solomon were cut.
Two more players were non-tendered on Friday: outfielder Allan Cerda and reliever Daniel Duarte.
Cerda was the more surprising move of the two. He wasn’t arbitration-eligible, as he hasn’t even played above Double-A yet, but the Reds decided to remove him from the 40-man roster anyway. Cerda, who will turn 23 on Thanksgiving, was added to the roster last offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He was the 26th-rated prospect in the Reds’ organization, according to Baseball America.
Cerda has done two things very well in his minor-league career: hit for power and get on base. He hit a personal-best 24 home runs in 2022 and has a career .367 on-base percentage. He also plays a strong right field and has a plus arm. The rub: he has major swing-and-miss issues. Cerda has hit just .233 as a professional and struck out in nearly 30% of his plate appearances.
Still, Cerda has youth on his side, and along with some loud tools, he’s a right-handed outfielder — a clear need for the Reds. While he’ll need to overcome his contact issues to become a major-league player,
the rebuilding Reds are hardly in a position to be bidding adieu to young players with upside. (Nevermind!)
Duarte was not arbitration-eligible, either. Like Cerda, he was added to the 40-man roster last offseason. After making the big-league team out of spring training, Duarte pitched in only three games for the Reds last season. He missed most of the season due to right elbow swelling, returning in September to appear in nine games at Triple-A.
UPDATE: The Reds have re-signed both Cerda and Duarte to minor-league deals, per the Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale.
The Reds offered contracts to six arbitration-eligible players: center fielder Nick Senzel and pitchers Justin Dunn, Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, Luis Cessa, and Buck Farmer. The team has already agreed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal with Farmer.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire