The Los Angeles Dodges have acquired infielder and defensive specialist Darwin Barney from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) July 28, 2014
Barney, 28, is hitting just .230/.265/.328 in 217 plate appearances this season with the Cubs; however, the Dodgers didn’t acquire Barney because of his bat. No, Barney is one of the best fielding second baseman in baseball and likely will play SS or 3B in late game situations for the organization.
In terms of his defensive prowess, Barney is truly one of the best in the big leagues. His Ultimate Zone Rating (URZ), which puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess (or lack thereof), is +15.5 over the course of 150 games. His Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) was +7, even while playing in a limited role. Per DRS, Barney has saved over 46 runs during the past three seasons.
There is no surefire role for Barney in Los Angeles right now. Hanley Ramirez is the everyday SS, Dee Gordon was an All-Star at second base this season, Juan Uribe is the go-t0 guy at 3B, and Justin Turner is batting .300 as the utility infielder. Barney will likely take Miguel Rojas‘ spot on the roster and be a defensive replacement when the Dodgers have a late lead. This also means that Chone Figgins‘ time with the organization may be over.
The question is can Barney, who is a career second baseman, play SS to back up Ramirez? While he’s spent a lot more time in the MLB as a second baseman, he was drafted as a SS and played SS for most of his minor league career. Given his abilities on defense, a couple of weeks of practice and he’ll likely be ready for the job.
Barney is earning just $2.3M this season and is still under team control through 2016. He will cost the Dodgers $804k for the rest of the season.