The Dodgers have avoided arbitration with catcher Austin Barnes by agreeing to a two-year deal worth $4.3MM, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The contract breaks down as a $300K signing bonus, $1.5MM in 2021, $2.5MM in 2022, and another $400K in potential incentives based on games played.
Barnes was seeking a $2MM salary for the 2021 season and the Dodgers countered with a $1.5MM figure, but the new deal both avoids a hearing and locks Barnes up for both of his remaining arbitration years. The catcher is still scheduled to hit free agency following the 2022 season.
MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected Barnes to earn between $1.3MM and $1.7MM through the arbitration process, so the catcher will top that projection (counting both salary and the signing bonus) and he also banks some extra financial security for 2022 in the process. The Barnes deal wraps up the Dodgers’ arbitration business for the winter, and it is the second multi-year contract L.A. has struck this week in order to avoid an arbitration hearing, after reaching a two-year, $8MM pact with Walker Buehler.
Originally a ninth-round pick for the Marlins in the 2011 draft, Barnes came to Los Angeles as part of a memorable seven-player trade in December 2014. While not considered an elite prospect at the time, Barnes hit well in the Dodgers’ farm system and seemed to emerge as a catcher-of-the-future candidate when he hit .289/.408/.486 over 262 PA in 2017. His bat hasn’t been nearly as potent since, however, and Barnes has settled into a backup role behind Will Smith.
With another highly touted catching prospect in Keibert Ruiz on the cusp of regular playing time, it remains to be seen if Barnes will be part of the Dodgers’ long-term plans. His two-year agreement could now make him something of a trade chip, or the Dodgers might prefer to move Ruiz in order to land a higher-tier trade target. This all to be said, Los Angeles could also just end up keeping all their catchers as part of the team’s philosophy of amassing as much depth as possible — the addition of the universal DH would help in that regard, as more at-bats would be available.
Barnes’ deal carries a $2.15MM average annual value, adding to the Dodgers’ increasingly large luxury tax bill. The club now has a projected tax number of over $257.5MM (according to Roster Resource), beyond the highest penalty level of $250MM. The Dodgers are facing a tax bill of over $15MM and, for passing the $250MM mark, a 10-position drop in the draft order for their highest pick in the 2021 draft. There has been speculation that L.A. could look to trade a contract in order to at least duck under the $250MM threshold, but since the Dodgers are being taxed at the “first-timer” rate, they seem comfortable in making this one-year splurge to reload for another World Series title.
Well deserving of the contract. He has been huge for the Dodgers!
Bargain. I think the post-season was an eye-opener for some Dodger fans who previously didn’t understand his value. And no, it doesn’t mean automatically trade Ruiz. Gotta love the catching depth.
Hoping we trade him, ruiz has much more to offer and is way cheaper. Unless they are planning to trade ruiz for prospects
What if Smith gets hurt?
And Barnes can teach Will & Kiebert so much yet on pitch framing & calling a game.
This is one heck of a team!! They have to perform for 162 & the playoffs but, one heck of a team so far.
Yes, and they have another highly-regarded catching prospect in Cartaya in the pipeline. That’s a nice outlook for the next decade or so.
On paper, this is the best roster of the Friedman era. Meanwhile, the next wave of prospects is getting ready.
…and they just signed Jesus Galiz in December the #7 overall and #1 catcher in the International Draft. The 17 year old out of Venezuela was expected to sign with the Yankees but the Dodgers swooped in at the last minute and snagged him. Yea us!
Thanks for posting that, I hadn’t heard.
I mean ruiz would step in then bring a backup off the street. Doesn’t make sense to allocate 4 million to a guy that doesn’t offer much in terms of offense. They are wasting ruiz who’s been waiting in the wings for 2 years now same with lux. At some point you gotta trade some depth to fortify other areas. Namely our farm we have a ton of guys in aa aaa with no where to play
They don’t have any areas to fortify. You don’t turn a strength into a weakness when you don’t need to. The Dodgers have three quality receivers on the books for very little money. A little over three million for the three guys. I’ll take that over Realmuto or Grandal money any day. Plus, the catcher is primarily a defensive position, and the Dodgers score a ton of runs anyway. No need to sign a catcher off the street. That’s what bad organizations do.
Chief Two Hands
I couldn’t agree more, Cey. Catcher is one of the most important positions on the roster, and Barnes provides experience and stability behind the plate as well as with many of the Dodgers pitchers. It’s also a position that requires rest, so having three quality players available is a good plan. Also, Barnes is versatile, should the need arise for him to fill in at another position in a pinch, like 2B, for example.
(Just saw that racosun had already mentioned his versatility).
Ruiz hasn’t been waiting for 2 years at all. look at the numbers.
@Tatsumaki….It seems you might not be familiar with the LAD farm. They did well in international FA signings, but this year is the least number of top 100 prospects LAD has had in many years.
Barnes you excels at game calling,pitch framing, and more basic defensive metrics. His hitting has lagged for a few seasons. However, late into the season and in the playoffs, he was hitting like many had long expected-thanks to tips from the 2nd best player in baseball.
Ruiz is 22 and had a 600 OPS in AA. He’s not being held back by anyone but his own progression
Rushing catching prospect is about the stupidest thing you can do
Ruiz hasn’t developed as well as Dodgers would have liked. Maybe gets traded as Cartaya seems to have more upside. But they’d like to build up Ruiz’s value before trading him? Maybe he has a breakout season at AAA. Barnes is a backup. Good defense and pitch framing but below average to average arm. The question will always be can he hit enough. In some years yes and others no. Less of an issue with Smith’s emergence. Can be more useful if DH is in place. Can occasionally DH Smith and play Barnes for his defense.
Wishing and hoping Tats. Barnes is an excellent defensive catcher and a clutch bat. Excellent deal.!
Could do a lot worse for a 2nd catcher. Fantastic defender. Has +24 DRS and 26.5 framing runs since 2017.
Unlike many catchers, he can also play around the infield.
You both have great points.
His defense and versatility are his strengths.
Kershaw sure loves throwing to him.
Dodgers FO is so good that they dot the i’s and cross their t’s with the backup catcher for both years. Yes folks it really is the little things
This is not an extension, why does it say “extend” in the title?
It is an extension of guaranteed money. To this point, there was no guarantee for 2022 for Barnes. He could have been cut if he is hurt, struggles, whatever
They still did not extend team control therefore it’s not an extension
This is good. Really like Barnsey!
Please extend Corey Seager next.
He’s better than the other SS becoming 2021 FA.
He’s the best SS of that class easily.
Doubtful the Dodgers extend Seager during the season (CBT issues) and plus he is a Scott Boras client, so he likely will become a free agent and then we will join the bidding war. The good news is there will be plenty of good shortstops as a fallback. Although like you, I am hoping we keep Corey. He is my favorite player on the current team.
If the Dodgers trade Chris Taylor for prospects, they move up 10 spots in the draft.
I thought LA was $7.5 mil over the final threshold and I thought CT3 makes $7.8 mil this year.
I guess I misunderstood the article but it has to be close still.
Why would they trade our super utility player? The only player on the roster capable of giving Pollock Bellinger and Betts a day off if the need arises? CT3 has more than earned his playing time and trading him makes ZERO sense
Because he’s a free agent but most likely avoids the QO and pick compensation.
Trading him now would put the team 10 spots higher in the draft as well.
Plus the prospects would help a farm that’s graduated a lot of talent recently.
CT3 is a super utility for the dodgers but he’d start for every other team.
Cap & Crunch
Ct 3 wouldn’t get the QO and he’s not going anywhere anyways
Kelley would be the play if 250 is a thing
No one is touching Kelly at 8.83MM unless we include a prospect and I doubt AF does that.
When you’re talking about draft pick 30 vs. draft pick 40, 10 spots is not that big of a deal. If you’re talking pick 1 versus pick 11, that’s a big deal.
Dodgers wouldn’t even be getting the #1 pick and our scouting department has always been savvy to pick up talent further down the ranks. So trading CT3 makes absolutely no sense just to get a higher draft pick.
Ruiz must be begging to be traded. He has been their “future catcher” for several years now. Not really fair to keep him in the Minors.
@DodgerOK…Not exactly-off the top of my head-his development slowed a bit in either ‘18 or ‘19 was not as good as the organization would have liked. That helped Will Smith to shine at the majors earlier-though somewhat expectedly as he is older. Aspects Ruiz’s game on of both side of the ball did not develop like had been hoped for or expected. Ruiz has (reportedly) not carried the same prospect value in the last year or two.
Why does everyone want to rush a young catcher who showed he’s not ready in the minors? Chill out
Why is Chris Taylor’s nickname CT3? What does the three mean?
His jersey number.
As far as I can tell Jerry Hairston was responsible for coming up with the nickname.
Chief Two Hands
I was almost certain he was a current member of the Three Amigos.
Question answered. Thank you.
Anthony, it’s also a play on NBA star Chris Paul being known as CP3.
I had always thought CT3 = Chris Taylor III… oops?
Great deal to have Barnes as a backup in case anything happens to Smith and also to mentor both him and Ruiz. Most vet catchers are more expensive plus Barnes knows the pitching staff. I see this as an opportunity for the Dodgers to trade Ruiz, probably Pollock and some other prospects to Cubs for Bryant. Spring Training next weekend, it’ll happen soon!
Why would the Dodgers trade for Bryant after re-signing Turner?
Why would the Cubs trade Bryant when they have an excellent shot at winning their division?
Pollock, Ruiz, and other prospects? That makes no sense.
@sillyscully, uhhhh, no
Bryant? You must have missed the weekend news. Turner is back! What possible reason would we want Bryant for one year? Geez.
Cap & Crunch
Id like to see Smith get some time at 3b/1b and possibly LF this year early to see how viable it is going forward
Would be nice to carry 3 catchers if Ruiz is ready in June/July for the remainder to keep everyone fresh- Last hitter spot on bn is very much open and I dont think they are spending any coin and bringing in an outsider …Peters McKinstry Beaty can be beaten out if hes swinging a nice stick in the minors to begin
With the current state of C around the league Id like to keep Ruiz and Cartaya out of any deals moving forward, ofc that same dilemma is going to have teams asking for them as well-
McKinstry has that spot.
I don’t think McKinstry is anywhere close to a lock for the last spot on the bench. If they go with a 4 man bench then Barnes and Rios should be locks. A lot depends on Lux, if he can’t win the 2B job in spring, will the Dodgers keep him on the bench or let him play everyday in OKC? If he wins the job (hoping) then Taylor becomes the 3rd guy on the bench. To me that would mean Beaty, McKinstry, Neuse, Peters, and maybe even Reks or Raley (if they don’t get DFA when Turner is official) will all compete for one or possibly 2 spots (5 man bench) this spring..
Not many players have a lock on anything but it sure seemed like the Dodgers were prepared to let Hernandez go because they had a player coming up with a similar profile in McKinstry. We could see the Dodgers rotating him, Rios and Lux and maybe a couple of the others you mention through IF utility roles during the year. It could get really fluid.
I think too much of a luxury to have Ruiz as a third catcher. He also needs to put up better numbers at AAA. He’s better served that way too so he can play more frequently. I can see a semi platoon with Taylor if Lux hits enough this spring training. Dodgers would very much prefer Lux to win the job so Taylor can be the main utility player. McKinstry hasn’t shown enough yet to fully rely on him as main utility player. Hopefully this his year to show that. I still like Beaty’s compact swing off the bench and Rios’ power bat off the bench.
@mlbdodgerfan2015 right about luxury trying to carry 3rd catcher in Ruiz. plus he still needs to play every day and keep getting more AB’s and work on framing. But, ya never know, sure fun to wonder though.