Dodgers News: Austin Barnes Demoted To Triple-A Oklahoma City
Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes reacts after striking out against the Boston Red Sox
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE (July 26, 10:05 a.m. PT): The Los Angeles Dodgers officially recalled Will Smith and optioned Austin Barnes to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

The Los Angeles Dodgers optioned Austin Barnes to Triple-A Oklahoma City, per the transactions page. The club has not yet announced the demotion or a corresponding roster move. Though, it’s believed Will Smith will be recalled.

Barnes heads to Oklahoma City in the midst of another prolonged slump. He used this past offseason to refine his swing mechanics with Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc, assistant hitting coach Aaron Bates and hitting strategist Brant Brown.

Barnes was encouraged by the results and feel he had from the months of work. With the exception of a productive month of May, this season has essentially been an extensive of a disappointing 2018 campaign.

In 70 games (60 starts) this year, he hit .196/.288/.328 with 10 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 23 RBI. Barnes was 0-for-3 with one walk and one strikeout in Wednesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

He additionally committed a throwing error on a stolen base attempt, which allowed David Fletcher to advance to third base. He later scored and that held up as the game-winning run in the Dodgers’ 3-2 defeat.

“That’s one of those things for me, Fletcher had a really good jump,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts noted. “That’s one of those plays, a good base stealer, you’ve got to eat it. He made the decision to throw it down and we couldn’t corral it. It ended up being a deciding run.”

While Barnes has continued to excel at pitch framing, he’s thrown out just five of 22 base stealers, with his 23% success rate below the league average of 27%. As for matters at the plate, Roberts stuck by Barnes throughout his struggles this season, regularly maintaining confidence the 25-year-old would right the ship.

Although the roster move is a disappointing moment for Barnes, it does not necessarily entail being completely cast off. After failed attempts to trade Yasiel Puig, he was demoted to Oklahoma City in 2016, but returned one month later and was relied upon through the 2017 World Series.

When Joc Pederson endured struggles similar to Barnes in 2017, he was optioned in a corresponding move to adding Curtis Granderson to the active roster. Pederson spent one month with OKC, was recalled in September and went on to bat .304/.360/.826 with three home runs in the postseason for the Dodgers.