Tag: Darwin Barney

Kris Bryant Cubs

Cubs weigh position changes for Javier Baez and Kris Bryant


With a straight face, Jed Hoyer said it’s important to focus on what’s up here at Wrigley Field right now — a last-place team flirting with a 100-loss pace. But the Cubs general manager did make a larger point about the obsession with Triple-A/Double-A kids.

“It’s fun to look at the box scores in Iowa and Tennessee,” Hoyer said before Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the San Diego Padres. “(But) every time you switch a guy’s position, or a guy has a big night, people shouldn’t be looking or clamoring for a promotion.”

Amen. So when are Javier Baez and Kris Bryant getting here?

Expect Bryant sometime after Opening Day 2015. Baez looks like a potential September call-up.

But on a day where the Cubs designated for assignment a Gold Glove second baseman (Darwin Barney) and confirmed Arismendy Alcantara needs to play every day in the big leagues, Hoyer downplayed the significance of Baez recently moving off shortstop.

“The Baez second-base thing is really more big-picture than anything else,” Hoyer said. “We want to increase his versatility. We thought it was the right thing to do to start putting him there. … These moves are not connected.”

[MORE CUBS: It’s Arismendy Alcantara’s time after Cubs DFA Darwin Barney]

After a slow start that created a panic on Twitter, the 21-year-old Baez has started to find his rhythm in the Pacific Coast League, putting up 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 89 games.

“We went into the year thinking we would move him around a bit earlier, and he struggled offensively,” Hoyer said. “We thought it was going to be the wrong time to have this guy worry about a defensive change. (So) we held off on it, and really waited until he got going offensively. We’re pretty proud of what he’s done this year. In some ways, it’s been ideal for him.

“He really built on every single month, until the last three or four weeks, when he’s been outstanding. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see that trajectory.

“In the minor leagues, you want to see guys finishing strong. You want to see them conquer that level, and his ability to fight through what was a difficult start has been really impressive.”

[MORE CUBS: Cubs promoting Jorge Soler and Albert Almora]

Bryant hasn’t really faced that adversity yet, hitting .345 and putting up 33 homers and 84 RBIs in 97 games split between Tennessee and Iowa.

The Cubs have had internal discussions about shifting Bryant from third base to right field, but they aren’t prepared to make that move yet with last year’s No. 2 overall pick out of the University of San Diego.

“He can do it,” Hoyer said. “He played center in college, and he’s played right. He feels good out there. The biggest focus for him right now is he’s working on his defense. He is almost 6-6, and with that the fundamentals of playing third base are more challenging.

“In the future, I would never say never that we wouldn’t put him out there. But right now, our focus is third.”

Cubs designate Darwin Barney for assignment, activate Emilio Bonifacio from disabled list

Darwin Barney Getty

Darwin Barney logged 500-plus plate appearances for the Cubs each season from 2011-2013 and was the Opening Day second baseman this year, but today he was designated for assignment to make roster room for Emilio Bonifacio’s return from the disabled list.

Barney is a good defender, but he’s hit just .244 with a .625 OPS in 542 career games as a big leaguer, including .230 with a .594 OPS in 72 games this year. At age 28 he doesn’t have any real upside, but should be able to latch on somewhere as a utility infielder.

His being let go suggests the Cubs are ready to stick with 22-year-old rookie Arismendy Alcantara at second base after initially calling him up two weeks ago as temporary roster depth. In fact, his debut came specifically because Barney went on paternity leave. Alcantara has batted .286 with six extra-base hits and three steals in eight games and if the Cubs do decide to send him back to the minors at some point they could always just turn to Bonifacio at second base.

Arismendy Alcantara to remain with Cubs for now

Arismendy Alcantara AP

The original plan called for Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara to get a cup of coffee in the big leagues for a couple of days while Darwin Barney was away on paternity leave, but his big game against the Reds this afternoon has changed things.

Making his major league debut, Alcantara went 4-for-5 with three RBI and finished a home run shy of the cycle. The 22-year-old struck out in his first major league at-bat, but he hit a sacrifice fly in his next plate appearance and followed that up with a two-run double, two infield singles, and a triple. The Cubs optioned today’s starter, Kyle Hendricks, down the minors after the game, which means that Alcantara will stick around at least through the weekend.

Much has been made about the Cubs’ glut of offensive prospects, but Alcantara has managed to fly under the radar despite putting up some big numbers in the minors. He was batting .307/.353/.537 with 46 extra-base hits (including 10 home runs), 41 RBI, and 10 stolen bases over 89 games with Triple-A Iowa prior to his call-up. It shouldn’t be long before he takes over second base for good.

Cubs call up prospect Arismendy Alcantara for MLB debut

Arismendy Alcantara Cubs

Second baseman Darwin Barney is on paternity leave and to replace him on the roster the Cubs have called up one of their many top-ranked position player prospects, Arismendy Alcantara, from Triple-A.

Ranked as a consensus top-100 prospect coming into the season, Alcantara has hit .307 with 10 homers, 25 doubles, 11 triples, and 21 steals in 89 games at Triple-A as a 22-year-old. He’s primarily a second baseman and has also played some center field.

Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago reports that the Cubs have already informed Alcantara his debut will be a very brief one, with a return to Triple-A planned as soon as Barney returns, but he figures to be back in Chicago at some point in the second half. Perhaps to stay.

Quote of the Day: Darwin Barney on the Cubs’ roster makeover

Darwin Barney Getty

There have been a number of changes since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over the Cubs’ front office in October of 2011. Familiar faces like Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, and Andrew Cashner have all been traded as part of the rebuilding process. With the latest deal, which sent right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics for a package including Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily, Darwin Barney is feeling a little lonely in the Cubs’ clubhouse these days:

Barney, now the longest-tenured player on the Cubs, isn’t far off. Starlin Castro, Welington Castillo, and James Russell are the only other remaining players from the 2011 team. We’re sure to see more changes soon.