Darwin Barney not surprised at possibility of being traded
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter February 27, 2014 8:37PM
Updated: February 28, 2014 1:56PM
MESA, Ariz. — When reports this week out of New York Yankees camp suggested the Bronx Spenders still hoped to upgrade their middle infield this spring, it didn’t necessarily make Darwin Barney start connecting dots.
But the Cubs second baseman isn’t stupid, either.
The Cubs have been the rest of baseball’s go-to guys for win-now help through trades 24/7 since Theo Epstein took over the baseball operations two winters ago — and anybody who’s been around as long as Barney has seen four consecutive seasons of teammates getting traded before the trade deadline in July.
“History shows that most players play for multiple organizations, so obviously that’s in the back of your mind as a player,” he said. “But we want to win here.”
The trade winds are hard to ignore around here, even in the spring — with Alfonso Soriano’s name coming up last spring and Jeff Samardzija getting that kind of attention already this year.
“It’s like, hey, we’re here, but you don’t know where you’re going to be tomorrow,” catcher Welington Castillo said of watching teammates come and go suddenly the last few years. Even in the spring.
“You never know what can happen. You’ve just got to go hard and play hard. You can’t control that.”
It’s been a prevailing reality in the Cubs’ clubhouse for at least two years that almost any player with trade value could be next in line for a departure.
“The reality is if you don’t perform as a team, things are going to change around the deadline,” Barney said. “So we take care of business on the field and when we’re at bat. You stay focused and work and worry about your job today.”
Barney, who just signed a $2.3-million deal as a first-time arbitration player, is a potential core player in the rebuilding process as a Gold Glove middle infielder. The front office also likes what he brings to the clubhouse with his work ethic, communication skills and professional approach.
But he’s also coming off a career-worst .208 season and has several fast-rising prospects behind him that might be second-base candidates — not the least of whom is top prospect Javy Baez, who could be looking for an alternative to shortstop when he makes a big-league debut that could come this season.
And newcomer Emilio Bonifacio, the super utility guy who led off Thursday’s spring game with a triple, is a natural second baseman.
“As a whole, it’s not like we sit here waiting to be traded. We want to win now,” Barney said, “and if we all play to our potential with the roster we have, we think we can compete.
“In the end, if you don’t play to your potential, and you don’t compete, things are going to change, and that’s been the case the last few years.”