Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Austin Barnes was among the several Los Angeles Dodgers who played in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, and while that entailed taking on a starting role with Team Mexico, he again was limited to time off the bench once the regular season came around.
Barnes had key hits on multiple occasions through the first six weeks of the season but he otherwise remained in a prolonged rut at the plate. Barnes’ struggles to contribute much offensively prompted the Dodgers to explore a trade for another catcher, which manager Dave Roberts revealed once the deadline passed.
Roberts nevertheless continued to praise Barnes for his work with the pitching staff and expressed confidence he would improve with the bat.
There were some flashes of that but Barnes finished the 2023 season batting .180/.256/.242 with five doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI over 59 games. It was Barnes’ fewest number of games played in a full season since 2016, when he had yet to fully establish himself at the Major League level.
Last year also saw Barnes loosely connected to the Dodgers distancing themselves from Julio Urías due to an arrest over an alleged domestic violence incident, as he and Will Smith replaced the left-handed starter in a 2020 World Series mural at Dodger Stadium.
Austin Barnes 2023 highlight
After Corbin Burnes and Lance Lynn each pitched seven scoreless innings last August 17, Barnes broke up the tie with a game-winning solo home run in the bottom of the eighth. The homer was Barnes’ first of the season.
Two days later he helped spark the Dodgers in the first game of a doubleheader by dropping down a game-tying squeeze bunt, also in the eighth inning, before Mookie Betts followed with a two-run single.
Barnes is the longest-tenured Dodgers player with the 2024 season being his 10th. Clayton Kershaw can keep that title if he re-signs in free agency.
This year is also potentially Barnes’ final season with the team as the Dodgers hold a $3.5 million option on his contract for 2025.
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