When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas to the Miami Marlins in December 2014, the primary focus on their return was pitching prospect Andrew Heaney. However, the young lefty was quickly flipped to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Howie Kendrick.
At that point, relief pitcher Chris Hatcher figured to play the most prominent role with the Dodgers in 2015, with Austin Barnes and Kiké Hernandez somewhat of an afterthought. Hernandez, a utility man, was known for his versatility.
However, the Dodgers were also enamored by Barnes’ ability to play positions other than catcher. Although the club told him to focus on catching last spring, Barnes never completely put away an infielder’s glove.
He also maintained a willingness to play whatever position he was instructed to — whether by the Dodgers or Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Barnes converted to a full-time catcher for OKC last season, but also started one game at second base and played one at third with the Dodgers.
Los Angeles will look to get him more time at second and third base, according to ESPN’s Doug Padilla:
When versatility presents itself, it might as well be utilized, so the Dodgers will get catcher Austin Barnes some time on the infield. A former SS at Arizona State, the Dodgers will try Barnes at 2B and 3B. A nephew of Mike Gallego, infield versatility is natural for Barnes, who made his major league debut last season.
The Dodgers are entering the 2016 season with a versatile group of infielders as everyone but Adrian Gonzalez is capable of playing multiple positions. As for Barnes, he’ll again begin the season with OKC — barring injury to A.J. Ellis or Yasmani Grandal.
The 26-year-old Barnes appeared in a total of 20 games with the Dodgers last season, batting .207/.361/.276 with two doubles and one RBI.