The Dodgers have optioned catcher Austin Barnes to Triple-A, as originally reported by MLB.com’s official transactions page. Will D. Smith will be called up to take Barnes’ roster spot prior to Friday’s game, according to Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times.
After a big performance down the stretch in 2017 that included usurping Yasmani Grandal’s at-bats in the postseason, it seemed like Barnes was on his way to becoming the Dodgers’ catcher of the future. That progress was stalled after Barnes had only a .619 OPS in 238 PA in 2018, and he has continued to struggle this year, hitting .196/.288/.328 through 233 plate appearances.
With veteran Russell Martin also not hitting well, Los Angeles hasn’t received much offense from the catcher’s spot this year — that is, apart from Smith’s first two brief stints on the Dodgers’ roster. Smith’s first exposure to Major League pitching saw him hit .269/.345/.654 with three homers in only 29 PA over nine games. As we saw with Barnes himself in 2017, the Dodgers aren’t afraid to turn to a young player late in the season, and if Smith continues to hit, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he earns himself regular catching duty come October.
Picked 32nd overall in the 2016 draft, Smith was a top-100 prospect in the eyes of both Baseball Prospectus (59th) and Baseball America (95th) prior to the 2019 season. He is already thought to have solid defense, and Smith has also hit .232/.334/.497 with 21 homers over 366 Triple-A plate appearances.
Catcher is an interesting long-term position for the Dodgers, as both Smith and top prospect Keibert Ruiz would seem to be the club’s top choices for the future, though L.A. also did its due diligence in exploring J.T. Realmuto’s availability before the All-Star was traded to the Phillies last offseason. Smith and Ruiz are undoubtedly popular targets for teams looking to make deals with the Dodgers, yet given that Barnes may be falling out of favor, it may behoove the Dodgers to see exactly what they have in both Smith or Ruiz before deciding on who will be their catcher of the future.
About time! This is Smith’s time to shine!
finally what a relief the worse offensive player dodgers have had in years . The mans an automatic out ,most likely by strikeout.
Dills is such a MLB middle name
The Dodgers just got better. Finally we don’t have 2 guaranteed outs from our 8 and 9 hole.
Kenta Maeda would disagree with that comment…
Barnes to Yankees.
Who do you have in mind as a return?
A plane ticket. Lol
Long overdue. Smith has hit the cover off the ball all year. The only thing that might suffer is pitch framing, but give the kid time.
I’m very sorry for Barnes but this must have been done a long time ago.
in 2017 Grandahl hit 22 hrs all season to Barnes 3 and hit like .260 to barnes .205 yet the Manager played him in all 7 WS games against Astros and really hurt the Dodgers offensive . i was shocked (as well as every Dodger fan I speak to) that he’s been still in the Majors. This is a good and overdue move by the dodgers
That’s because Grandal was even worse in from mid-August on. Grandal is a notoriously awful second half hitter and one of the absolute worst post-season hitters.
Did you even watch the playoffs? Grandal was horrendous at the plate and en even bigger liability on the field. Grandal has always been a super hot for 2 weeks but then awful for 2 months player. Anyone who watches the games instead of just reading stats on the internet knows this.
Sad but very necessary.
No Will smith jokes? Ok
Aw man… and I was just about to ‘Get jiggy with it…”
That’s hot, that’s hot
“Daahh-deee, can we get another catcher, please, Daahh-deee.”
About time. it was horrible watching Barnes bat. Barnes lost it last year and is poor defensively as well. Will smith earned it. Best player plays finally!
I’m pretty sure the random MLB Reference link on the “reporter” isn’t the same guy haha — seeing as it links to an Active Mexican League LHP lol
Not the first time that’s happened. The links must be automatic. Or maybe it is the same guy…
Long overdue. He was an automatic out. Mouth breather.
Dodger fan genuinely shocked. They must really believe in Smith’s defense because Barnes is apparently loved by the pitching staff, however putrid his hitting.
Yup for some strange reason that part of a catcher’s game is often overlooked by the fans. Strange since it’s a catcher’s main responsibility.
The pitching staff is just going to have to deal with it. Barnes is not a starting caliber hitter. Will Smith was already their long term C and was bound to be their october guy this year too. Its time the pitchers get used to Smith. Barnes will be full time backup next year if he is still with the team
We expected Smith would be up soon with Ruiz to follow but just deal with it isn’t much of a game plan. I’d expect Martin to get more playing time during a catching transition. It’s a lot more complicated than it might seem.
This might be a team wake up call to Barnes. They demoted Puig and Joc Pederson in the past and both came back to regain starting iobs.
The only difference is that Puig and Pederson’s production didn”t come close to matching each’s ability. I don’t think Barnes has anything close in terms of hitting ability as those two .
Curious which of the two (Smith &Ruiz) are more likely to be dealt at the deadline. Heck, maybe they keep em both and have a strong tandem
they cant do any worse than the awful Barnes/Martin combo Ruiz/Smith will be fresh air for the fans
It’s highly doubtful either gets dealt.
Wilson Ramos in Trade with Diaz?
According to reports out of NY, as well as all advanced defensive metrics, Wilson Ramos is almost unplayable as a defender behind the plate. His defense is just awful.
About time. I wondered why they let him hit last night in the 9th. Now we know.
A change that just had to happen. Smith gives them much better at bats and a chance to win
Martin got old fast…..
Now put Kiki hernadez on the IL and call up Lux before he cools off. Also, go with a six man rotation from here on out by adding Urias to the rotation, keep everyone fresh and involved.
Why so down on Hernandez? For the last two weeks he’s been batting .400. with an OPS of 1.1. If you want play a hot hand, right now it’s Hernandez. And Urias isn’t going into the rotation any time soon. They still aren’t letting him go more than three innings. No sign of that changing.
Hernandez has been great the past month, but he is who he is. I think putting Kiki on the IL is just about fans and the organization getting an extended look at what Lux can do at the MLB level. Kiki is best used all over the field as the guy who can fill in at seven different spots. Heck, he could play almost everyday in a roll like that. If the Dodgers want to finally win the World Series, they need to maximize all eight starting offensive spots. AL lineups have no holes and they also will need to get through some tough teams in the NL before even getting there. Lux fails in a trial run, then at least the Dodgers will have the “DATA” that indicates his not yet ready in 2019.
Hernandez has always been a super-streaky hitter. I say unless he has a real injury he should be played nearly every day until he slumps again, which is probably going to happen. Keeping him active doesn’t really block Lux. NL lineups are not more prone to holes than AL lineups. NL teams get to play a DH playing in AL parks and AL teams have to bat the pitcher in games they play in NL parks, which is actually an advantage for NL teams. Teams in both leagues play defensive specialists who don’t necessarily hit a lot.
I agree, if the Dodgers get through the competition in the NL they will probably be facing an equally strong team in the World Series. The real hole they’ve got if they get that far isn’t in scoring runs, though, it’s preventing them in the bullpen.
Love Kiki but your right on the money. It is Lux and Smith time. Now about that Bullpen ?????
meanwhile Martin continues to flail at the ball with regularity…kindly throw him 85mph fastballs so he can at least make contact, kthx
This bullpen is a disgrace and that falls on the ownership, Friedman and of course Roberts handling of that inept bullpen. HAVENT the dodgers learned from the last 2 WS losses that it was the bullpen who imploded.Buy a top nothch reliever or it will be 2nd again , and that’s if they make the W.S.
How is a manager supposed to handle an inept bullpen?
Pray for Devine intervention from the Baseball ⚾️ Gods….Dodgers World Series Champions 2019 (3rd Times A Charm)