ATLANTA -- The Dodgers traded a minor-league pitcher named Jonathan Martinez to acquire Darwin Barney from the Chicago Cubs on July 28, three days after the San Francisco Giants put their everyday second baseman, Marco Scutaro, on the 15-day disabled list with a bad back.
This is probably not a coincidence.
The Dodgers were blocking their division rivals, it seems, especially when you consider that, at the time, they didn’t need a backup middle infielder. They were happy with what they had been getting from Miguel Rojas. Second base and shortstop were locked down every day by Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez, respectively.
It took an injury to Ramirez for Barney even to get a call-up from Triple-A Albuquerque, but he’s here now and happy to be on a West Coast team -- his home is in Beaverton, Ore. -- with World Series aspirations.
Barney was the Cubs’ everyday second baseman from 2011-2013, winning a Gold Glove in 2012. The Cubs designated him for assignment to activate Emilio Bonifacio five days before they traded him to the Dodgers. It was a whirlwind week for Barney. He and his wife have three daughters, the youngest of whom was just two weeks old at the time of the DFA.
They packed their Chicago apartment in a day-and-a-half and moved back home to Oregon. Then he got a call from his agent that he was headed to the Dodgers.
“When I found out I was traded to the Dodgers, a West Coast team in first place, I couldn’t have been happier,” Barney said. “From there, there were a lot of unknowns. They’re pretty steady in the middle infield and they have a good thing going, so they don’t necessarily need me to play my position of second base that I’ve ended up being pretty good at. I look at it as an opportunity to play for a winning organization.”
Barney said he has no ill will toward the Cubs’ front office. He said the Cubs told him they were in the process of bringing younger players to the majors and that they didn’t want to have him spend most of the remaining games on the bench. They told him they thought it was in his best interests to be made available to other teams looking for a final piece or two for a pennant drive.
He and Starlin Castro were viewed within the clubhouse as the veteran Cubs, Barney said. Now, he said he’s enjoying being one of the younger players in the clubhouse and being around an organization with championship aspirations.
“We’re not working to get better here. We’re working to win every single game,” Barney said. “Over there, it seemed like it was more about if something went wrong, ‘OK, now how do we fix it.’ When you go out to win a ballgame every single day, it’s kind of fun.”
The Dodgers will use Barney as a backup to Gordon at second and Rojas at shortstop. After playing just three games at third base at Triple-A, he told manager Don Mattingly he wasn’t entirely confident playing third yet.
“I feel like I’m a little OCD on defense,” Barney said. “I’d become a machine at second base in terms of automatically reacting and making plays instead of having to think. At third, the wheels started turning a little bit and I felt a little rushed.”