Dodgers Team News

Dodgers: Dave Roberts Does Not View Austin Barnes as a Backup Catcher

The Dodgers are set up for years to come behind the plate, After signing Austin Barnes to a 2-year deal to avoid arbitration, Los Angeles should have the position locked down for at least the next 5 years. 

Last season, Will Smith proved that he can be the guy moving forward for the Dodgers. He came out swinging and slashed .289/.401/.579 with 17 extra-base hits in 37 games while hitting the ball incredibly hard. 

But Austin Barnes was no slouch either. He put up his best offensive season since 2017 and got more chances in the postseason than most expected. That played out more defensively as Barnes’ presence calmed pitchers and led them to success more often than not. So what does the starting role look like moving forward?

During a call with Dodgers media on Monday, Doc talked about his current catching situation. He was asked how it was possible that Barnes got so many starts in the postseason over the last few years despite being a backup catcher. But for Dave, Barnes isn’t a backup at all. 

Barnes started a few games for the Dodgers during the 2020 postseason run, and a lot of those starts came in the World Series. That was in part due to wanting to get Will Smith off of his feet while also keeping his bat in the lineup as a DH. 

All of this was a part of a broader conversation Dave led about competition in Spring Training. For Doc, competition at the position level is key to pushing guys to the next level and getting the most out of them that they can. The Dodgers are in for a few key battles, mostly in the rotation and on the bench. 

But if they are able to get back to the 2017 Austin Barnes form, the Dodgers will have a lethal duo behind the plate in 2020. So much so that it could force them to find a new position for Smith if Barnes kept hitting. 

Only time will tell, but it is very good to be the Los Angeles Dodgers right now. 

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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Believes the Lack of Celebration in 2020 Fuels the Fire to Win Again


  1. Not to take anything away from Barnes, but the fact is he benefited hitting in front of Betts who was batting leadoff instead of batting 8th in front of the pitcher. The DH allowed Smith to bat in middle of lineup when Barnes was catching. Now because of the ignorance of MLB and Manfred, the NL won’t have a DH and Dodger offense won’t be as productive with the pitcher batting after a whole year and then some away from the batters box.

  2. It’s all about if Barnes can hit isn’t it? Will Smith is one of the up and coming young catchers in the game. Roberts feels he has to say that. Same as Jansen is our closer. He wants to keep all the players happy.
    Roberts is a players manager. Not a tactical manager he is a players pal type uncle coach. We all get it

    1. If Barnes is batting 8th in front of the pitcher he may be pitched around and not get as good of to hit as he did last year with Betts hitting behind. Him So in a way it’s no fault of his own.

  3. That’s a good point about Mookie protecting Barnes and the role of the DH in all this. Giving credit to Austin, at least when he was pitched to he hit well. I also think you will never hear Doc say anything that can be construed as negative about a player.
    Ultimately we want more offense out of catcher than Barnes can provide over the long run and a full season. I view him as an above average #2 catcher who really handles his pitchers well and gets in more games than most catchers in his role do. He also has a sneaky way of hitting in big games and when a game is on the line.
    That said we have at least two very promising catchers in the pipeline…two years from now or even 2022 will be an interesting year re our catching decisions.

  4. Don’t be surprised to see the Dodgers carry three catchers at some point this season. The Dodgers will want to see what they have with Ruiz. They will also want to see about the Biggio-like diversity of both Smith and Barnes.

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