An interesting rumor came out this morning with the New York Yankees. They apparently could be interested in Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. Barney is 28 years old and a slick fielding second baseman. Could be another pieces in a possible deal for Jeff Samardzija? Maybe, but the Yankees shouldn’t have Barney as a part of the deal.
Yankees interest in Cubs Darwin Barney may pick up . (Royals sign Omar Infante) teams talked earlier.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 14, 2013
Baseball teams are built with strength up the middle. Jacoby Ellsbury is a very good defensive centerfielder. Brian McCann isn’t Jose Molina behind the plate, but he’s not terrible. When Brendan Ryan plays shortstop, he’s one of the best in the game, and quite possibly the best. Barney led the league in fielding percentage the past two seasons. If you don’t want to use fielding percentage, fine. He led the National League in defensive WAR in 2012.
Here’s the thing with Barney though. If you don’t like Ryan as a hitter, Barney may be a little worse. His batting average, on-base and slugging have declined in each of the past three seasons. Last year, he hit only .202 with a .266 on-base percentage. Yuck.
Now, let’s take a look at free agent Mark Ellis. The only thing Barney has over Ellis is age, since Barney is nine years younger. Ellis last year had a .270/.323/.351 line with seven homers and 48 RBI. Ellis and Barney had the exact same defensive WAR last year at 1.5. Offensively, Ellis was also a 1.5 WAR while Barney was -0.7. Also, Ellis will just cost money, while Barney will cost you a player in a trade.
If the Yankees have Barney and Ryan up the middle, the defense will be excellent, but the offense will be sub-replacement level. The problem with the Yankees last season was the lack of offensive production at many places. While the Yankees have addressed their offense at a few positions, having Barney at second will be a step back. Sign Ellis and keep what you would have to trade for Barney.