The Toronto Blue Jays and infielder Darwin Barney have avoided arbitration by agreeing to one-year contract worth $2.8875 million according to Jon Heyman.
Earlier in the off-season, MLBTR projected Barney to earn $1.6 million next season, but it appears that projection was based too heavily on Barney’s $1.05 million salary from 2016. In the two seasons prior, he earned salaries of $2.35 million and $2.50 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Barney, who turned 31 in November, will be eligible for free agency following this coming season.
In his first full year with the Blue Jays, Barney performed above expectations and received a good deal of playing time given the injuries to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and second-baseman Devon Travis.
Over 104 games, Barney hit .269 with a .695 OPS. Thanks to his excellent defensive abilities, he was worth 1.5 WAR (FanGraphs), his highest total since 2012 with the Chicago Cubs. If Barney is able to provide the Blue Jays with another season of 1.0 WAR, the salary will be easy to stomach.
Barney is primarily a middle-infielder, but he also made 17 starts at third base throughout the season and could be used as Josh Donaldson‘s primary backup when he needs a day off the turf. Barney also started four games in left field, where he can be an emergency option if needed.
His primary competition this spring will be Ryan Goins. The career Jay is a very strong defender himself, but inconsistencies at the plate have limited his ability to stick on the MLB roster. Goins is out of options this season, so he’ll be facing a big spring.