Barnes made his MLB debut with the Blue Jays in 2016, seven years after being drafted by Toronto in the 35th round
Danny Barnes had one of the best 2016 seasons of all relievers in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization.
The 27-year-old right-hander dominated at the double-A and triple-A levels before holding his own over a dozen MLB appearances, and unless the Blue Jays’ really flood their bullpen with talent over the next month, Barnes will be a favourite to earn the sixth or seventh spot.
Over 61.1 innings pitched with New Hampshire (AA) and Buffalo (AAA), Barnes posted an excellent 0.73 ERA with 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings and just 0.9 BB/9. Regardless of the level, those numbers jump off the page.
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Barnes will be part of a crowded “on the cusp” group with Ryan Tepera, Bo Schultz, and several others. He’s coming off a stronger season than any reliever in that group, however, and fits the needs of Toronto’s bullpen in a direct way.
Thanks to his good changeup, Barnes has the ability to neutralize left-handed hitters fully and pitch multiple innings. In 2016 across all levels, left-handed hitters only managed a .114 average and .342 OPS against Barnes. Those splits aren’t as encouraging when you look earlier in his career, but the advancements made by Barnes in 2016 give ample reason to believe that his performance is something other than luck and chance.
His ability to work longer than a single inning will also appeal to the Blue Jays, who currently do not have a traditional “long man” entering 2017.
That is arguably the easiest position to fill in a bullpen — either with a sixth starter or quadruple-A rubber arm (looking at you, Scott Redmond) — but Barnes could potentially provide this on a pre-arbitration salary.
As always, a reliever’s greatest attribute early in their career can often be their salary.
Barnes pitched 75 innings over his 53 appearances in 2016 and worked 2.0+ innings 19 times. His periods of peak usage in the minor-leagues last season did not produce noticeably weaker results, so that shouldn’t be an immediate worry.
Beyond all of his on-the-mound appeal, Barnes also has option years remaining. Even if he doesn’t stick on the MLB roster, the role of a back-and-forth reliever is forever valuable. For someone like Barnes, a 26th roster spot under the new CBA would be particularly beneficial.