By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player's season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays' plans going forward.
A fan favourite, Darwin Barney has made a living by being one of the best infield defenders around. Barney signed a contract for 2017 in January, avoiding arbitration (in his last year of eligibility) and getting his salary back up to $2,887,500, his highest for a single season in his career after the Blue Jays didn't tender him a contract and re-signed him after the 2015 season.
Coming off of a 2016 season in which he played in 104 games and hit .269/.322/.373, Barney's almost-three-million-dollar salary was quite justified considering the solid production he had provided in replacing Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki for large chunks of the year. Unfortunately, 2017 wasn't going to go as smoothly for Barney as his 87 OPS+ (his OPS was 13% lower than league average) in 2016 turned into a 57 OPS+ in 2017.
Barney hit just .232/.275/.327 in 2017, hitting just 14 doubles and six home runs (one off of his career high) while stealing seven bases in nine attempts. Barney's offensive stats plummeted despite more playing time as he once again stepped in to fill the shoes of the oft-injured Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki.
Barney hit more poorly at home than on the road (with a .582 OPS at Rogers Centre and .619 OPS on the road) and his OPS was probably saved by adding a little more power in the second half, when he hit 10 of his 14 doubles and four of his six home runs in just over half of his plate appearances. In particular, Barney's September/October was spectacular, as he started 21 games, hitting .294/.338/.500 with five of his doubles and three home runs.
I have a feeling that Barney will not return to Toronto in 2018, primarily because the Jays are looking for someone who can play multiple positions with much better offensive production. In addition, the Blue Jays have Ryan Goins to fill the backup infield role and he's just eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2018 and will likely command a much lower salary than Barney for comparable production.
Barney is now a free agent.
Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: D+
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Check out the Handbook page for more information!