Dodgers Roster: What Lies Ahead for Austin Barnes?


Once highly touted for his offensive prowess and his ability to field multiple positions, Austin Barnes gave the impression that he was in the big leagues to stay after a quality 2017 season campaign when he saw playing time in 102 games.

During that year, Barnesy slashed .289/.408/.486 with eight long balls and 32 doubles and ultimately became the Dodgers‘ primary catcher when Yasmani Grandal was unable to produce later in the postseason.

However, the 29-year-old Fullerton native was never able to improve upon or even duplicate his benchmark 2017 campaign. In 2018, he hit just .205/.329/.290 with four homers and five doubles in nearly the same amount of appearances. Through 70 games and 233 plate appearances this season, he was slashing a meager .196/.288/.328, giving the parent squad no other option except to explore alternative options behind the plate.

Despite his outstanding defensive mechanics and strong ability to call a game, management decided to option Barnes to Triple-A Oklahoma City on July 25 and recalled rookie Will Smith, hoping the latter would deliver some much-needed offense out of the primary catching spot.

And we all know how that turned out.

Nevertheless, we certainly haven’t seen the last of Barnes this season. Rosters expand on September 1, and Barnes will likely be recalled to the big league roster, so long as Oklahoma City will be able to fill his spot with a body to do some catching. The recall will be an audition of sorts to give him a chance to reclaim a spot on the 2019 playoff roster.

There’s a slim—very slim, I might add—possibility the Dodgers carry three catchers on the 2019 NLDS roster. That’s if all three stay healthy throughout the remainder of the season. Secondly, Barnes could find himself in direct competition with either Smith or Russell Martin for a postseason roster spot. Team management has already stated they love Martin’s veteran presence and leadership; plus, we all know that Smith isn’t going anywhere, especially if he continues to produce offensively at his current pace.

Regardless, Barnes has found his groove at the plate at OKC since his demotion. In 50 AB over 13 games, he’s slashing .300/.418/.636 with five homers, three doubles, 10 walks and 15 RBI. He has also fielded three games at second base.

His five jacks at Triple-A match the five he hit in the bigs this year (in about 150 less AB), but the Pacific Coast League just happens to have a reputation of being very hitter-friendly. Plus, the overall pitching in the PCL isn’t even close to the caliber a hitter would see in the majors.

Still, Barnesy will get his chance for redemption in a few short weeks. At the moment, the cards are by no means stacked in his favor, but we have seen stranger things happen at the beginning of the playoffs in past years.

Either way, it will definitely be fun watching all three catchers battle it out during the month of September for the right to be the No. 1 backstop.


40 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: What Lies Ahead for Austin Barnes?

  1. I definetley see a spot for Barnes on next year’s team especially with Martin as our new shut down reliever! But I don’t see Dodgers carrying 3 catchers on post season roster especially if Taylor, Kike and Freese all come back healthy. Smith would have to tank big time for Barnes to get in this year

  2. Interesting last year I believe we carried Kyle Farmer during the playoffs I could be wrong. I really like Barnes but for some reason he can’t get out of his own way in the major leagues at the plate. I wish we had a spot for him because sooner or later the league will catch up to Smith and I hope he can adjust. Tough decision. Any thoughts out there??????

    1. I in all reality do not believe Smith will keep this up over his career. But I defiantly believe he can hit at least .270 a year and be a 20 plus homer guy. He has adjusted so far and he seems to be a pretty smart hitter. Barnes on the other hand has about a snowball’s chance in hell of ever regaining the status he once had as the Dodgers main catcher.

  3. Since Barnes is versatile and can play somewhere other than C, the option to have him on the post season roster is there. That being said, if Kike and Taylor are healthy, he becomes a redundant piece. But he can be on the so-called taxi squad should Martin or Smith get injured. Farmer was on the playoff roster in 2017, not last year. And Farmer is having a decent season in Cincinnati. He has more homers and a much better average than Barnes does. I believe Barnes future in LA is cloudy at best if not actually close to being over. His future depends on what they do with Ruiz. If they decided to bring Ruiz to the big club to be in tandem with Smith, that could happen in spring next year. This off season will tell the story. Barnes is a good defender, but Smith is a superior hitter, and Ruiz is supposed to be the same. Here is something that could happen. Say the Dodgers win the NL and the A’s, who have a very good team manage to beat the AL powers and make it to the series. The Dodgers would most likely have to face Homer Bailey, who they are paying over 20 million to pitch for Oakland in one of the games. Bailey threw 7 innings of 2 hit ball against the Giants today. He left with a 7-0 lead. A’s pen to this point in the game has given 5 of those back in the 8th inning.

    1. I can’t see any scenario that has Ruiz with the big club at the beginning of the 2020 season. He didn’t exactly kill it at OKC during his time there and will miss the last month of the season with a broken finger. Barring unforeseen injuries I think Smith is probably the starter at the beginning of the year and the choice will be between Barnes and bringing back Martin for the backup.
      Wow, that’s really something with Bailey, both the great game he pitched today and the thought that we might be paying him 20 mil to pitch against us.

      1. I think Ruiz’s status will be determined in spring. Bailey is 10-8 with an ERA north of 5. But he has more wins than Maeda. Ruiz did ok at AAA. He was hitting .316 there. Only hit .254 at AA Tulsa.

      2. Didn’t realize that Ruiz’s numbers were that good at OKC but it was only 40 plate appearances. At Tulsa, he wasn’t nearly as strong at that was the bulk of his at bats this year. Batting stats are so inflated in the PCL this year that you should almost ignore them and consider AA stats instead. The Dodgers hardly ever rush prospects, especially when there isn’t any major need to do so. I’m sticking by my prediction that Ruiz starts at OKC next year and unless he really has spectacular numbers I expect him to be there most of the year.

      3. It would probably serve him better to start there. I doubt they re-sign Martin unless AF feels he wants to keep Ruiz at AAA the entire year. But I still believe he is going to get major playing time in the spring. He might even go to winter ball when he is all healed up. Rios second homer was a BOMB!

      4. Ah, maybe I misunderstood your previous comment. I agree that he should get some nice playing time in the Spring, but they’ll then send him to OKC. I can’t imagine that Smith, Barnes and Martin will all be on the roster on opening day. Either they trade Barnes or don’t sign Martin. Once he’s done playing I’m sure there would be some sort of coaching job for Martin with the organization. From all reports, he’s been a real mentor for some of the younger guys, not only the catchers. Really seems to be enjoying himself

      5. You gotta love Yimi. He just can’t help himself But I think we can use him in a two run save situation. At least we know he’ll only give up a solo homer unlike Jansen!

  4. Game started a little bit ago. 3-0 in the second. Kershaw strikes out the side. Turner and Seager go deep. Turner’s 4th in the last 3 games. Seager’s was a 2 run shot. I was impressed the Bellinger beat the shift with a nifty bunt right down the line. Miami really is a terrible team.

  5. Kershaw starts the game with 6 K’s, all of them swinging. That’s pretty good. I know I can be an old grouch sometimes and pretty testy when I get aggravated, but at least I am not a total A-Hole…like a few people I know on some other sites…….LOL’

  6. Well I have figured out that Pederson should just go on the IL when they come to Miami because the good work he did the last few days disappeared in the 5 at bats he has had here.

      1. It’s during conversations like this that I really miss Grandall, King of the Streakies.

      2. I honestly think Grandal had a touch of Schizophrenia. When Von Scoyoc wrote his dissertation for his doctorate on launch angles, he did mention how a handful of the more severe psychological conditions can drastically affect a player’s performance. Unless they took PEDs, like Sosa, Manny or Bonds. 😂

  7. Hate it when we have storms here. Messes up my reception on my ROKU. I lose the signal almost every inning. That being said. Kershaw perfect through 4. Pederson 1 K away from a golden sombrero.

  8. You gotta love Yimi. He just can’t help himself. But I think we can use him in 2 run save situations. At least we know he’ll only give up a solo homer unlike Jansen!

    1. Yimi has given up 13 dingers. More than Hill or Ryu. His ERA is over 4, but the BA against is under .200. Great stuff, just inconsistent.

  9. Can the Fernando belongs in the hall hubbub stop now>?? El Toro had 141 wins as a Dodger. After he left LA he played 7 more seasons and won exactly 32 games. Not even close to hall worthy. He did a lot for the game here in LA, but as an impact player across baseball, not so much. He was a very GOOD pitcher, not a great one and he does not belong in the hall.

  10. Just read a story that said the Marlins ownership has not decided if they are bringing Mattingly back. Considering what he has had to work with, he has not done a bad job. His first year there was marred by the sudden death of their star pitcher, Hernandez. Then the next year they started unloading all of their star players. Basically he is just getting these kids they have some experience. But I am pretty sure Jeter want’s to put his own guy in there. Probably will have Yankee roots too. 19.5 game lead with 40 to play. Pretty sweet. Early game today. Then on to Atlanta. We will see if Buehler can match the kind of pitching performances we have seen the last couple of days. Rookies keep contributing. This time it was Rios. Guy has some kind of power.

  11. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mattingly wants out of there. The organization is a mess top to bottom and the fans there just don’t care. Both those franchises in Florida are ghost towns at game time. Do something MLB.

    In thinking about the Barnes situation it would certainly appear he has no future here. We have 3 prospects better than him. This year? No reason to bring him up now. As long as Smith continues to produce at the plate, we have a better shot at home field. The playoffs? I would want to know who the staff prefers behind the plate for that level of intensity. Smith is performing on a team that’s 19.5 games in front. In games like these in Miami, nobody is watching. Not a whole lot of pressure. The playoffs are obviously a very different ballgame.

    1. Well Scoop, according to Mattingly in a statement yesterday, he wants to stay and see the re-build through. Jeter said they would make a decision before the end of the season, so DM might be out and maybe not. A lot of his coaches have Dodger ties. They have some talent over there, just a ton of inexperience.

      1. The rebuild? What rebuild? Have you seen their system? Last I looked, earlier this year, (June) it was ranked 23rd, up from 28th. These guys have been below .500 for 10 straight years, and 12 of the last 14. They’ve finished double digits behind for a decade now, including over 20 games behind 3 years running. They’ve been dead last in their Division 5 of the last 9 years and 2 years running. Heck, even the year they won the Series they finished 10 games back They stink like the fish they are and will stink for a while. And what is just as worse as all this is the fact nobody in Miami cares. Why Mattingly would want anything to do with this makes no sense to me.

      2. “Why Mattingly would want anything to do with this makes no sense to me.”
        Why? Because he loves being around the game of baseball, the pay is good, and it’s the last managerial job he’ll ever have.
        That said, I expect to see a different manager there next year.

      3. All good points. But Donnie Baseball can stay in the game if he chooses. After 4 years in Miami his win % is only slightly behind Lasorda’s.

      4. Very true. There are probably some teams who will have openings. Cubs may be one, and with a baseball pedigree like he has, he should have no problem landing another spot in the game. He could conceivably be hired by the Yankees somewhere down the line in some capacity.

      5. He might get a job with the Yanks somewhere as a coach or roving instructor, or even in the front office, but I would be very surprised if Don Mattingly ever gets another MLB managerial job. Most of the younger GM’s (and that’s most GM’s) are tending to hire younger managers who are closer in age to the players. Mattingly is not known as a big stats guy so that also limits his possibilities. I really don’t see him fitting with the Cubs at all.

    1. I read that story yesterday. It still is a crap shoot. Who ever gets the best out of all facets of the game during the series is going to win. And the MVP need not be a star as many times in WS play it has been a roll player. Last year’s series MVP, Steve Pearce is a good example. Nice story in MLBtraderumors about the BP woes of the eastern division teams. For all of their maneuvering, the Braves acquisitions have not been all that great. Phillies are losing arms as fast as they get them. Looks like both Robertson and starter Arietta are out for the year. The Mets best reliever, Lugo, has been in a funk lately and Diaz has not shook his season long lethargy. DC has statistically one of the 3 worst pens in the majors. The Dodgers even with their woes in the pen, are much more likely to get good performances out of a very experienced group of relievers. If Hill and Maeda are down there in post season, they are even better. Found out yesterday while watching the Giants-A’s game that SF has 5 lefty’s in their pen. I think they want to shut down the Dodgers lefty hitters.

      1. Well you’re right about all that Bear. Who knows how it will shake out. A lot can happen in 6 weeks. I still think our bullpen could have several starters in it come October. Urias and Ferguson are technically starters. Maeda, May, Gonsolin, even Rich Hill could conceivably all be available. The bullpen might be a strength. And if the 49.7% bullpen innings in October continues, that group looks pretty darn not too bad.

  12. Not my comment there Scoop. That’s what they described the Marlins as, a rebuilding team. You are right, not much to work with, but they have been there only 2 years.

    1. I’ve read what “they” are saying. The Marlins might get back to .500 by 2021. By most accounts, regular season baseball in Miami doesn’t work so well. 8,729 and 8,810. With the Dodgers in town. I wonder what a mid week day game will draw.

  13. Wow. People xing themselves off the playoff roster. If Ferguson doesn’t come back next year with a slider or some third pitch then he doesn’t deserve to be a big leaguer! Hopefully this is the end of Chargois Dodger tenure! Please!

    1. Sorry Rich, that inning is on Baez and Buehler as much as it was Chargois. The entire pen sucked. There will be more adjustments, that much is clear.

      1. We score 7 and lose to the worst team in the league. The pen gave up 8 earned in 5 innings…. to the worst team in the league. That was a stinker. They are going to happen.

      2. I can’t believe they only have relatively few games like this considering the lead we have. On the other hand there are way more players than playoff roster spots so that should keep the boys hopping once CT3, Kike, Freese and Gyorko arrive. And Beaty, Rios and Garlick will have their hats in the ring as well and I guess even Negron has a shot.

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