With the wave of infield prospects about a year away, his salary rising through arbitration and his offensive production lacking, Darwin Barney’s days as a Cub are likely numbered.
Unfortunately, that lack of offensive production probably means the return the Cubs will get will be small (think one player in the 15-30 prospect range of an organization). According to Bruce Levine, the Mets have inquired about him to play in their middle infield, presumably as the righthanded part of a platoon with Daniel Murphy. Jim Bowden has also floated the possibility of the Dodgers asking about Barney if neither Dee Gordon nor Alex Guerrero show enough to win their second base job. With the injury to Jose Iglesias, you also have to wonder if the Tigers think Barney can play shortstop.
Mets trade suggestion: Darwin Barney for RHP Robert Whalen
Whalen put up excellent numbers last year in rookie ball as a 19-year old-and showed a great curve ball while throwing a low 90s fastball. His fastball has good life and he generates lots of ground balls.
Dodgers trade suggestion: Darwin Barney for LHP Victor Gonzalez
Gonzalez pitched in rookie ball last year at just 17 years old and held his own. He pitches in the low 90s with a good change up, but needs some work on his breaking pitches. Gonzalez has #4 upside.
Tigers trade suggestion: Darwin Barney for a PTBNL (who would be RHP Jeff Thompson)
A 2013 draft pick, Thompson will have to be included as a PTBNL, since draft picks can't be traded until a year after they are selected. Thompson is huge at 6-6, 245 lbs and throws a low 90s fastball to go with a low 80s slider. He needs to work on a changeup and improve his breaking ball. There's disagreement over whether he can stay in the rotation.
All things considered, I think the Cubs would pull the trigger on any of these deals, similar to how they were willing to trade Scott Hairston for an interesting arm. It'll just come down to whether each of these teams is willing to give up an arm with some potential for possibly only one season of Darwin Barney (a team could non-tender him after this year).