With just a couple of months until the 2016 Blue Jays season starts, I thought we'd take a look at the Blue Jays 40-man roster,one at a time. Try to figure out where they fit with the team and see what the important question is for each. I was going to call it 40 in 40, but the odds of me keeping up the one a day rate for 40 days is slim (at best). And, I imagine, there will be some changes to the 40-man roster over the 40 days.
First on out list is Darwin Barney.
Alex Anthopoulos, figuring the team could use another middle infielder, made a trade with the Dodgers to get Barney on September 13. Minor league catcher Jack Murphy was sent to the Dodgers in return. It seemed a strange time to make a trade, as it was after the deadline for Barney to get to go on the Jays post season roster.
At the time, the Jays were in first place in the AL East, 3.5 games up on the Yankees, after losing to the Yankees that night. We were a little short on middle infielders, with both Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki on the DL. Tulo we hoped would be back by the season end, but Travis was gone for the year. For the game on the 13, Ryan Goins was playing short and Cliff Pennington played short with Munenori Kawasaki the only reasonable middle infield glove on the bench. With the expanded September roster, having just one extra middle infielder seemed wrong, especially for a team in the playoff race.
In Darwin, the Jays picked up a player who played good defense, winning the NL Gold Glove for his play at second base in 2012, when he was a Cub. He didn't have much of a bat, but he could play both second and short and do a better job with the glove than Munenori. With our offense, we could live with a good glove/poor bat infielder.
Barney played in 15 games, starting 6, in the last 3 weeks of the Jays season, playing second base. He played good defense (there was the one error) but he hit much better than we expected. In 26 PA, he hit .304/.333/.609 with 2 home runs. We wouldn't mind seeing that sort of batting line, in a larger sample size this year, but odds are slim.
The Jays signed Barney to a $1.05 million, 1-year contract back in December.
With Devon Travis expected to miss spring training and maybe the first month, or so, of the season. And with Pennington signing with the Angels and Munenori signing with the Cubs, there is a opening for Barney to win a spot on the team. With a good spring, he could end up in a platoon with Ryan Goins at second base, until Travis is able to play.
His main competition, for a job out of spring training, would seem to be Maicer Izturis, who the Jays signed to a minor league contract last week. But, unless Maicer has an amazing spring and Barney is terrible, I'd think there is little chance he could beat out Barney. Darwin's glove is much better.
His bat isn't great, but his career numbers against lefties aren't all that bad, .266/.320/.384 in 518 PA. If he is platooning with Goins (until Travis is ready to play) we can live with that.
The question is "do the Jays keep him on the roster when Travis is ready to play?". With the injury history of Tulowitzki and Travis, it would be a good idea to keep as much infield depth around as possible.
ZIPS projects him to hit .240/.287/.338, I'd likely take the over on that, mostly because I think he'll face most left handed pitching. ZIPS also have him getting 425 PA. I'd take the under on that. I think the over/under on at bats should be about 100. Let's make that a poll question.
As a kind of 25th man on the roster, good glove, ok base runner, isn't so terrible with the bat that you hate seeing him in there. He's not as much fun as Munenori, but he'll likely be a much better player.