While the Cactus League slate got underway in Mesa for the Cubs, the news out of New York is that the Yankees are still seeking to add depth to the infield portion of their roster. The main reason for this issue was the loss of starting second baseman Robinson Cano via free agency to the Seattle Mariners. That has left the Bronx Bombers with Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts, and Eduardo Nunez to try to fill in the playing time, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Bruce Levine mentioned on radio 670 The Score back in December that the Yankees had interest in Darwin Barney. Of course nothing has happened since, as the 2012 Gold Glove winner is in camp with the North Siders this Spring. Considering no deal was struck from prior conversations between New York and the Cubs, it would be hard to see a trade being made sometime this Spring, despite the lack of infield depth for the Yanks. Part of the reason is that, as Cubs fans well know, Barney had a down year at the plate in 2013. He hit a career low .208 with a .266 OBP. At this point in the season, the Yankees may also use the Spring to observe one last time exactly what they have on hand in house before making a move.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are not in a position where they have to send Barney packing. The Oregon State product continues to provide plus defense while being under team control through the 2017 season, with an affordable $2.3 million salary hitting the 2014 accounting books. Despite the overflow of prospect talent on the edge of making its way to Wrigley in the next couple of seasons, only the recent signing of Emilio Bonifacio seems to be the closest threat to Barney’s time as a Cub for the immediate future.
Even an outstanding Spring from minor league signing Bonifacio may not be enough to give the Cubs front office confidence to deal away Barney by Opening Day. Number 15 and his Gold Glove would only be considered a luxury out of camp if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer felt an infielder by committee amongst Bonifacio, Donnie Murphy, and Luis Valbuena would be enough to get through the 2014 campaign before those journeymen made way for the top prospects in the Cubs system.
For you Cubs fans that want to see an upgrade over Barney for his lack of offense, the more likely trade scenario for the current Cubs starting second baseman would be an early season move in May or even June. If Barney can start the season with offensive production that reflects his career averages at the plate, his trade value increases from the 2013 season by showing potential suitors like the Yankees that last year was just a down one. By then the Bronx Bombers would also have had a chance to really assess their situation with the in house infield depth chart. The Cubs would also have had the same amount of time to get a better grasp of where Bonifacio with some regular season action instead of misleading Spring Training numbers.
There is a lot of time between now and then, but best believe that the the Yankees will be keeping Barney on their radar over the next few months.