Second baseman Darwin Barney is a Gold-Glove winning defender. But in 2014, he has been somewhat of a forgotten man on the Chicago Cubs‘ 25-man roster. The Cubs will have an upcoming decision to make on Barney’s future within the organization. The next few weeks of games could play a big part in the evaluation process on whether Barney has a future in Chicago.
Recently, the Cubs’ opening day second basemen, Emilio Bonifacio, was placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain. In his place, Barney has been seeing more playing time in what will become an important stretch of games for his future plans. Ever since Bonifacio got off to a blistering start to begin the year, Barney’s role has been significantly downsized. In limited time this year, Barney is batting under .200 and in his last six games, he is just 3-for-20. While he is a quality defender, Barney’s bat has still put him behind the eight ball for consistent playing time and continues to plague him.
Until Bonifacio returns, Barney will likely see the majority of the playing time at second ahead of Luis Valbuena. Barney will likely be not only auditioning for the Cubs’ front office, but for other teams around the league as well as a possible trade piece. With the trade deadline approaching, teams may be looking for a utility infielder to help strengthen their defense.
Even with good play, it has long been rumored that Barney’s days in Chicago may be numbered anyway due to the farm system that the Cubs possess. With guys like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant mashing in the minors, call-ups are fast approaching, which will soon lead to an infield makeover on the North Side. Baez is capable of sliding to second, and even Starlin Castro could shift positions. With the way Valbuena is hitting as of late, he is another guy who could see an increase in at-bats. There are any number of combinations that the Cubs could use, but unfortunately, none of them seem to include Barney’s name.
One way or another, this is suddenly an important stretch of games for Barney. He has been given an opportunity, what will the Gold Glover be able to do with it?
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.