Creativity Could Be The Dodgers’ Answer at Second Base
After weeks of waiting on some sort of outcome in regards to the Dodgers attempt to trade for Brian Dozier, it looks like the Twins and Dodgers are not going to be able to put something together. The Twins want more than the Dodgers were willing to offer, which was reported to be Jose De Leon, who depending on who you ask is either the team’s #1 or #2 pitching prospect.
Because the Dodgers have apparently moved on from trying to acquire Dozier, many have looked towards other outside options to fill the vacancy at second for the Dodgers.
Names like Ian Kinsler, Logan Forsythe and Jurickson Profar have been getting the most attention. Others such as Josh Harrison, Luis Valbuena and Yangervis Solarte have also popped up a time or two.
With trades probably coming at a hefty price, and the cheaper options in Solarte (extension with Padres) and Valbuena (signed with Angels) now off of the table, the odds of the Dodgers filling their hole at second base are slowly starting to spin out of their favor.
There are internal options. Probably none of them would be as good as if the Dodgers made a trade for a new second baseman, but these internal options come at no cost.
I know what you’re thinking.
“Nobody wants to see any of Kiké Hernandez, Charlie Culberson or Chris Taylor start every single day in 2017.”
To that, I agree with you. But what if there was another option that involved some creativity on the part of Dave Roberts, and it involves manipulating the versatility he has at his disposal.
I’m talking Austin Barnes. Barnes holds a value only a handful of players in all of professional baseball has: He’s a catcher who also plays second base, and he is not bad at it.
The trade of Carlos Ruiz finally opened the door for 27-year-old Austin Barnes to get his first shot as a full-time Major League Baseball player. An honor that has been a long time coming for him, and he definitely deserves.
Barnes was recently named the #8 catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. He cracked Baseball America’s Dodgers top 10.
The oldest (27) & most versatile on the list, #Dodgers' Austin Barnes checks in at No.8 on our Top 10 Catchers list: https://t.co/jInZhwcZvY pic.twitter.com/2a7ZWVGEAq
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 19, 2017
He is praised for his advanced hitting, with a lot of line drive power and the potential to hit double digits in home runs at the major league level. Also mentioned is that Barnes is quite an underrated defender behind the plate. He has not mastered everything, but he does everything a catcher should do.
There have been multiple reports that Barnes, right now, is actually good enough to be the starting catcher for a handful of teams in the league. He has the bat to back it up too. With continuous success as a hitter, solid defense at multiple positions and just all around versatility, Barnes holds a significant amount of value.
Barnes hits both right-handed and left-handed pitchers. He hits for average, gets on base quite a bit, can hit a ball out of the yard and has more speed than you would expect.
Over the course of six minor league seasons, he has an impressive slash line:
.299 Batting Average
.388 On Base Percentage
.439 Slugging Percentage
.828 On Base Plus Slugging
The .388 OBP is something to really look into when considering Austin Barnes for the starting second base job. The Dodgers have no real leadoff hitter. The main objective for a leadoff hitter is to get on base. While Barnes does not have the base stealing profile of what most feel a leadoff hitter should, he gets on base. Him being able to set the table for the big men behind him would be a crucial component that the team did not get last year from Chase Utley.
[graphiq id=”b3b1kyvJfFP” title=”Austin Barnes” width=”600″ height=”601″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/b3b1kyvJfFP” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/18711/Austin-Barnes” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]
Making Barnes the every day second baseman does still cause a few concerns:
- Primarily a catcher at every level he has been in throughout the minor leagues, could a full time job at second base expose his flaws?
- Barnes is above average defensively at catcher, so playing him at second base every day could permanently remove him from the position, which then hurts his value over time.
- The Dodgers will have to go out and find themselves another backup catcher (not hard to do, but still not preferable)
This is where the creativity sets in. This is also where I might lose a few of you, so let me set out a scenario.
Every night that the Dodgers face a right-handed pitcher, Barnes plays second base and Yasmani Grandal catches.
When the Dodgers face a left-handed pitcher, Kiké Hernandez plays second base and time is split between Grandal and Barnes at catcher.
Everyone knows what a horrific 2016 Kiké Hernandez had. Many forgot how fantastic he was against LHP in 2015. The man killed them every time he saw them. It seems like a safe assumption that the real Kiké Hernandez is somewhere in between his 2015 and 2016 form. Giving him about two starts a week against lefties could maximize his value for the team.
Grandal can mash. He mashes way more against RHP then he does against LHP, so giving him and Barnes split time behind the plate against lefties could be great for multiple reasons.
- Austin Barnes continues to get time at catcher throughout the season, keeping him fresh in case of an injury to Yasmani Grandal.
- Yasmani Grandal gets 1-2 days off a week to keep him from being overworked and collapsing in the final third of the season.
This is not the most flashy solution to the second base problem by any means, but it is probably the best way to use what the team has internally. Barnes has the best offensive upside of anyone that can play second base and is major league ready. It gives Hernandez a chance to perform against LHP, which is what he excels at. Grandal will still get the rest he needs in this scenario, which is probably the most important aspect, as he is going to be one of the main sources of offensive production for the team in 2017.
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”https://dodgersnation.com/dodgers-news-keith-law-ranks-farm-system-fifth-best-baseball-gb1293/2017/01/20/”]The Dodgers have a top five farm system, according to Keith Law[/button]
Trevor, I like the solution. Barnes is an excellent contact hitter. But he must play to keep his timing. Playing him in a rotation at second and catcher would get him at-bats to keep him locked in.
Kike is a much better hitter than last year indicated. He became enamored with the bomb and forgot he is a slap type hitter.
At some point this year I want to see Calhoun. Curious if he is the hitter that he looks to be with his numbers.
I’d sign utley, and feel totally comfortable with barnes, kiki, and utley sharing 2nd base, with barnes getting 2 days a week behind the plate, and maybe another 2 or 3 at 2nd.
They should’ve gotten dozier all they had to is give up some prospects it’s not that hard we need to be worried about winning now
I like it, proceed! Lol
JacksonEbner I agree with you. The team will have plenty of pitching this year and hopefully with Turner not coming off of Knee Surgery and Gonzo his back issue and Toles, Etheir, Thompson and VanSlyke healthy we can patch and fill at Second. We should have enough to win the division and keep Bellinger, Verdugo and Alvarez.
I see where this could work out for the dodgers and Calhoun gets more experience and if it doesn’t work go out and trade for Dozier or kinsler but I don’t know if they are going to be willing to give up prospects who are close to the majors unless it’s DeLeon or lower ranking prospects and Puig could be an option if he hasn’t progressed from the last few years
The potential here for having a good leadoff hitter should not be overlooked. Plus a possible leadoff tandem of Barnes against lefties and Toles against righties sounds pretty strong.
Danielsocal I agree, there has not been much talk about Toles. I think he was THE FIND last year. Good Defense and arm but the speed and hitting ability to me is amazing. He is one of those guys that could come off of a sick bed and go 4-4. He makes contact and can really run the bases. To me, he is the left fielder unless Thompson can platoon with him. I think Etheir will be a bench guy.
Look at the rapidly dropping age of this club! Toles, Pederson, Thompson, Puig, Seager, Barnes, Urias, Stewart, Stripling, Liberatore, and Grandal is only 28….
Bellinger, Verdugo, Calhoun, Alvarez and others like Oaks, and Buehler in the wings….
Do not weaken the catching position by moving Barnes when there are other alternatives at 2b.
Agree that if Doc manages it right it should ENHANCE Barnes’ readiness/timing, improve our lead off situation some, still relieve Yasmani regularly so they’ll BOTH be more rested for the last 1/3 season.
But also agree I’d really like to see what Calhoun has to offer? If his bat is as potent as reported, tht can only be a good thing.
Maybe he can play 2b well enough, like what was implied, any notable flaws may be exposed playing 2b on a regular basis, and perhaps being at a different position than the one (catching) he is accustomed to, his offense,(yet to be proven in MLB) may suffer. IDK but if Dodgers are otherwise not too keen on those other internal options, perhaps then it’s time for FO to ‘Man up” and get a deal done for a 2b from the abundance they now have on farm. Depth in system is there.
Socalbum I absolutely agree with this. Let Barnes learn how to be a ML catcher, that is what he is. Let him get comfortable with the pitchers. He is #8 catching prospect in MLB, not as a 2B. He is not Craig Biggio. I recognize that the Dodgers do not have a sure-thing 2B, including Barnes. If the Dodgers can get Dozier for JDL alone or with a lesser A level player included, then do it. If not, Kike’/Taylor/Culberson/Fernandez need to step up, and Calhoun needs to prove that he can play at a ML level at 2B. Let’s see if any of them have the determination/confidence to play themselves into the position. They are ML players, it’s time for at least one of them to prove it.
I was all in for Utley last year, but not this year. Save the $$$. Kike’ and Chris Taylor actually hit LHP better than Chase in 2016. Kike’ much more power but Taylor had a better BA/OBP (in a <40 PA sample size). There is enough LH hitting in the lineup to cover up for any deficiencies they may bring to RHP. Maybe it will not take long for Fernandez to get re-acclimated to the game, and he can be an effective platoon. If not, like others have said, let’s wait to see where they are at the trade deadline.
If we are going to be better than the cubs and our team of last year then I am against the patch and fill philosophy. I love having a great farm system but I believe it should be used to make the major league team better when we are not going to sign free agents.
Concur completely Hallguy! Even though Barnes may be able to play some Inf. it may mean Dodgers have to have another backup catcher. Which is not what this team really needs. Patch and fill philosophy has run it’s course as well as having to platoon so much.
Hallguy Sorry Twins reportedly wanted Bellinger and same as Seager he is a cannot miss. So, u do not trade him for a two-year rental. They claim to have plans for Calhoun if so bring him up early or use Barnes in a mix with Kike and Taylor or Culberson.
I am fine with trading DeLeon and a second level guy but not DeLeon and a couple of Blue Chippers.
hello there, a while back it was reported that Twins WOULD do a deal that doesn’t include Bellinger. In any case Bellinger is not available in ANY trade!
pauldodgerfan1965 Tmaxster Hallguy If that were the case according to reports the deal would have been made. The Twins want one of our untouchables like Bellinger, Verdugo or Alvarez and the Dodgers are not going to trade them for very good reason.
Going forward in another year or two the Dodgers will be almost all homegrown and very budget friendly for Guggenheim. Guggenheim will be making mega-bucks in return on their money. And I believe an infield of Bellinger, Seager and Turner with Grandal and Barnes at catcher and ? at second is a damn good one.
The outfield could have Verdugo, Puig, Toles, Thompson and Pederson another good group.
PithcingKershaw, Maeda, Urias, Wood and Stewart, DeLeon, Oaks, Buehler, Alvarez or ?
But looks great… The Future is very bright…