Blue Jays: Darwin Barney signs MiLB deal with Rangers

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Darwin Barney
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Darwin Barney /

Former Blue Jays utility man Darwin Barney has finally found a new home, signing a MiLB deal with the Rangers including an invite to spring training.

It’s been a rough offseason for free agents, but now that we’re a week away from some pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training it’s expected that there could be a flurry of signings this week. There were a few on Monday evening, including the Texas Rangers inking former Blue Jay Darwin Barney to a minor league pact, which includes an invite to spring training.

It’s definitely a step back for the 32 year old utility man, who made $2,887,500 last season with the Blue Jays before becoming a free agent this offseason. He ended up starting 96 games last year in the absence of Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis, but struggled with the bat alongside fellow utility man, Ryan Goins.

He’s long been considered an asset on the defensive side of the ball, and even has a Gold Glove award from back in 2012 when he was a starter with the Chicago Cubs. In his two seasons with the Blue Jays he saw plenty of time at shortstop, second base, third, and even in the outfield. He provided the defensive flexibility that an oft-injured roster needed, and an occasional boost with the bat from the right side, especially on a bench mostly full of left-handed hitters.

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He finished last season with a slash line of .232/.275/.327 with just six home runs and 25 RBI, and a bWAR of -0.7. He was far more valuable in 2016 when he hit .269 and earned a +1.3 bWAR rating, but wasn’t able to find the same success last season, despite playing on a regular basis for the majority of the year.

In Texas he’ll look to crack a roster that already has several established pieces in their middle infield. Veterans like Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor are expected to start up the middle, and the ageless wonder Adrian Beltre will hold down third base. The Rangers also were rumoured to be considering a trade of Jurickson Profar, but he remains in the system as well. While each have their downsides and potential injury histories, it could all up to a tough time for Barney to get on the field, or even make the team at all.

Still at this point in the offseason players and their agents are going to feel a sense of urgency, and that’s likely what happened with Barney here. With dozens of free agents still looking for contracts, getting a job and a chance to re-establish his value is more important than holding out for a major league contract, or a guaranteed roster spot.

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