Cincinnati Reds fans may be frustrated by hot stove season so far, but Minnesota seems to be doing okay.
Late on Nov. 18, the Reds traded infielder Kyle Farmer to the Minnesota Twins for minor-league pitcher Casey Legumina. The Twins had selected the right-handed pitcher in the eighth round of the 2019 first-year player draft, and MLB Pipeline rated him as the No. 26 prospect for the team. In 2022, Legumina compiled a 2-6 record with a 4.80 ERA, three saves and 92 strikeouts in 86.1 innings of starts and relief in the minors.
Farmer had landed in Cincinnati in 2018 after debuting with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017. Primarily a left-side utility infielder, Farmer had 98 games at shortstop, 36 at third base, two at first base and 10 as the designated hitter in 2022. He hit .255 with 134 hits and 14 homers in 526 at-bats. He went 1-4 during MLB's Field of Dreams game against the Chicago Cubs in Dyersville, Iowa on Aug. 11.
The Farmer/Legumina trade happened on the final day to offer next season's contracts to players who are under club control. Farmer would have been under Cincinnati's control through 2024 and likely could have made close to $6 million through arbitration. He made $3.155 million during the 2022 season.
"It gives us a little bit more financial flexibility," Reds general manager Nick Krall said after the trade.
That "financial flexibility" falls in line with ownership goals but has worried Reds fans in the past – something that's bound to happen again after the team posted its second-ever 100-loss season, ending with a record of 62-100. The losing also kept more fans at home, with the team experiencing its lowest season attendance since 1984 – just 1,395,770 people saw the Reds play at Great American Ball Park in 2022.
Fan enthusiasm and trust have been waning since the Reds lost free agents like 2021 All-Star outfielder Nick Castellanos during the last offseason and traded away big contributors like outfielder Jesse Winker, third baseman Eugenio Suárez and pitcher Sonny Gray. Just before the start of the 2022 season, Reds owner Bob Castellini said that he wanted to concentrate on developing younger players, and the team had indeed cut payroll. Over the summer, the team continued the fire sale by trading starting pitcher Luis Castillo, outfielder Tommy Pham, outfielder Tyler Naquin, starting pitcher Tyler Mahle and infielder Brandon Drury.
Feeling betrayed and fearing that 2022 would not be a legitimate push for playoff glory, some fans raised more than $4,000 ahead of Opening Day for a billboard urging Castellini to sell the Reds to someone who would invest in winning. That I-75 billboard and fans' growing lack of trust in the team elicited a sharp response from the Reds' chief operating officer – and Bob Castellini's son – Phil Castellini, who told 700 AM WLW radio that Cincinnatians essentially just had to deal with it when the team repeatedly refuses to pay for productive veteran players. Phil Castellini later walked back his comments.
It looks like the Reds may be stacking 2023 with even more prospects, minor-league graduates and second-chancers, possibly to the consternation of Reds fans who haven't seen a division championship since 2012. Shortly after the Reds announced Farmer's move, the team acquired infielder Kevin Newman from the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Dauri Moreta.
But Twins fans already are seeing the value in someone like Farmer, who can fill a hole at short.
"Kyle Farmer is a great utility pickup. Hits lefties. Can play 3B and SS," Twins fan @andluedtke said after the trade. "They got better with this move."
If the Twins keep Farmer around, Reds fans may see him in 2023, when the MLB guarantees every team to play each other at least once. The National League Central Reds will square off against the American League Central Twins Sept. 17-20 at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds will kickstart the 2023 season with a home opener against NL Central opponent the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 30.
Coming soon: CityBeat Daily newsletter. We’ll send you a handful of interesting Cincinnati stories every morning. Subscribe now to not miss a thing.
Follow us: Google News | NewsBreak | Reddit | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter