Because the Chicago Cubs are obvious sellers, and because we’ve already heard repeatedly that the Cubs are willing to listen on virtually any player on the roster, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Cubs are receiving interest on second baseman Darwin Barney.
Ken Rosenthal reports today that “[r]ival clubs frequently ask about Barney, but none has offered value that the Cubs consider sufficient for a regular second baseman.” He says we shouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs ultimately trade Barney.
Barney, 26, is having the best offensive season of his career, and is one of the better defensive second basemen in baseball. His .272/.319/.392 line doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually above average for starting second basemen this year. The Cubs would probably be quite content to hold onto Barney for the next few years, given that he’s emerged as a league average or better second baseman (I know, I can barely believe it myself), and he’s cheaply under control for some time yet.
But they also have to strongly consider making a deal for the very same reason. Barney has obvious value, and the Cubs might be able to replace him internally by 2013/2014. Those are the kinds of guys you have to consider dealing, even if you love them. And, let’s be honest: his offensive “surge” could be a fluke, and he could easily finish out his career as a great utility player, but nothing more.
The other reason to strongly consider trading Barney? I have no doubt that he could be a league average defensive shortstop (not just a second baseman), if not better. And with his newly-improved offensive skills, he might actually be an above average overall shortstop. If you’re able to sell him that way, imagine what kind of return an above average, 26-year-old, cheap shortstop could net.
I doubt Barney could bring back a top 100 prospect on his own, but if he were bundled with a pitcher to a team that needs a middle infielder? That could a package attractive enough to really net the Cubs the kind of haul to which they couldn’t say no.
(Baseball Reference is still working out the defensive aspect of its WAR formula, so I wouldn’t put much into this, but Barney is currently the sixth most valuable offensive player in all of baseball according to bWAR, at 3.2. FanGraphs has him at a more reasonable, but still very good, 1.2, good for 90th.)