What Happened In 2016: Not much. It was mostly another wasted season in Triple-A for Austin Barnes.
The 2016 season began well enough for Barnes. He actually broke camp with the Dodgers, but everyone knew he’d only be there for a handful of days as Yasmani Grandal was getting over a sore forearm that landed him on the disabled list to begin the campaign.
I argued in Spring Training that he might be the answer to the infield depth issues the Dodgers had before the seson started.
“Barnes could backup second- and third base, leaving Hernandez open to backing up second base and shortstop (and center field, to a lesser extent, thanks to Trayce Thompson). Also, Barnes’ inclusion on the roster allows the Dodgers to let Grandal get some reps at first base and Gonzalez some time off so that he’s fresh come the postseason. Having a player with Barnes’ potential versatility opens up a lot of doors to play matchups and get guys some much-needed in-season rest without sacrificing a lot of quality on the diamond.”
That didn’t really happen. Barnes came back up when the Dodgers designated Carl Crawford for assignment in June, but as you can tell by the statline above, Barnes didn’t get much playing time. He was, surprisingly, included on the National League Division Series roster, but only pinch-hit once and pinch-ran once.
At Oklahoma City, Barnes was pretty good. Not as good as he was last season, but the results for him don’t matter. He spent most of his age-26 season in Triple-A when he should have been on an MLB roster, as there isn’t much more he’s going to learn or take away from being on a Triple-A roster. Hopefully next season he gets be on an MLB roster and he can determine whether he has a legitimate MLB future (which I think he does).
2017 Status: Possible trade candidate, but has nothing left to prove in Triple-A. He needs to be on an MLB roster somewhere. If it’s with the Dodgers, he could be the third catcher and a backup infielder.