It’s another one of those sad, but understandable, “end of an era” days.
Long-ish-time Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney has been designated for assignment to make room for Emilio Bonifacio, who is returning from the disabled list and an oblique strain. The Cubs will now have 10 days to trade, waive, or release Barney.
Given that the Trade Deadline is 9 days away, the timing here makes a lot of sense. Whatever was going to happen with Barney was probably going to happen in the next 9 days anyway. Now it has to.
As an arbitration-eligible player who hasn’t been able to rebound with the bat this year, Barney was going to be non-tendered after the season anyway, so his days with the Cubs may have been numbered as it was. Hopefully the Cubs can find a taker for him – though they won’t get much in return, it would be nice to see Barney get a shot, even if just on the bench, with a contender. Whatever you think of his struggles offensively, Barney always seemed like a great teammate, a good guy, and a hard worker. I’d like to see him land on his feet.
We’ll have more on Barney when the inevitable move is made. That will include plenty of kind words for a guy who was often very fun to watch, and contributed as best he could at all times.
In Barney’s place, Bonifacio returns to a .261/.307/.340 line after missing a little more than a month with an oblique strain. He’ll likely get as many starts as the Cubs can reasonably give him between now and July 31 in case there’s a team out there that wants to pick up a versatile player like Bonifacio, who could offer real value off the bench.
Bear in mind, this does not necessarily mean Arismendy Alcantara will be staying with the big team for the duration (though it does make it much more likely). Tomorrow, the Cubs will need another roster spot for Tsuyoshi Wada, and that will come from the position player ranks.
DFA’ing Barney opens up a spot on the 40-man roster that, for now, the Cubs aren’t using.
I should also note that Javier Baez is regularly playing second base at AAA Iowa now. I wouldn’t quite say this “opens” a spot for him, given that Barney wasn’t really starting anymore anyway. But it is one less obstacle to Baez seeing time in the bigs at some point in August/September if his development otherwise dictates it.
The Cubs will try like hell to trade Bonifacio as well. So in reality, both he and Barney are on the block and need showcase time. Barney more of a glove guy, Bonifacio more of a versatile/speed guy.