Back in 2011, Darwin Barney was a young second baseman on a Chicago Cubs team full of veterans, including Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Matt Garza and Carlos Pena. Just a few rebuilding years later, he hardly recognizes the clubhouse he enters every day.
Since the end of the 2011 season, the Cubs have undergone a massive rebuilding effort under executives Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod. That’s meant constant trades over the years, with the vast majority shipping out veterans in exchange for talented prospects.
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The latest deal came this weekend, when the Cubs traded starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for a package headlined by highly regarded shortstop prospect Addison Reed. He joins a stacked minor league system that also includes top young players like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and others.
Now the Cubs are an increasingly young team, with no starting position players or pitchers above the age of 30, and as a player, it’s probably hard not to notice the changes. Barney and shortstop Starlin Castro are the only holdovers from the 2011 team, and it’s worth noting that the former may not be around for long.
Barney may be a strong defensive second baseman, but it’s become hard to tolerate his poor offensive production. This season, he’s batted .220/.261/.316 with two homers and one steal in 65 games. He’s essentially been a replacement-level player in 2014, according to Baseball-Reference, and may find himself on the way out of Chicago one way or another.
The Cubs could always deal Barney, who’s been rumored to be a trade candidate in the past. It certainly wouldn’t be hard to replicate his offensive production, and maybe he wouldn’t feel so lonely elsewhere.