Darwin Barney was recently designated for assignment by the Chicago Cubs, and the Cubs have every expectation that the second baseman will be given an opportunity with another ball club. In a story posted on ESPN.com, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was quoted as saying, “Hopefully through this process we can get [Barney] to a place where he can help a contender and get a feel for a pennant race.” Could that club be the Indians?
Barney’s primary value to the Tribe would be his glove. As earlier discussed on Wahoo’s on First, the Indians are the Major’s worst fielding team, and just three World Series winners since 2000 finished the regular season with more errors than the league average. Barney was the 2012 NL Gold Glove winner at second base and achieved a 141 game errorless streak that season, tying a major league record. He boasts a .990 fielding percentage over the span of five major league seasons.
Adding Barney would also allow Terry Francona to rest Jason Kipnis more frequently, as Kipnis told reporters this week that his earlier oblique injury will have lasting effects for the rest of the season. Barney does have limited major league experience at shortstop and third base, and he could provide some depth at those positions, especially if Asdrubal is sidelined for any length of time or dealt before the deadline.
Certainly, Barney’s bat has left much to be desired this year, as he is batting just .230 with two home runs, 16 RBIs and 18 runs in 204 ABs. Any team that takes a flyer on Barney hopes that a change of scenery will help spark the bat. In his first full season, Barney hit .276 for the Cubs over 529 ABs, so there is precedent for a turnaround at the plate, and there is hope he is on the verge of a second half break-out. In the month of July, over the span of 39 AB, he is hitting .385 with two triples.
The addition of former fourth round pick Darwin Barney may not satisfy the fan looking for a big splash, but it is the type of low risk move that could provide big dividends for a team like the Tribe as they look to make a push for a return trip to the playoffs.