The Dodgers have a wealth of talent across their 40-man roster, but their catching depth may be the best of them all.
They have two top catching prospects waiting in the wings in Keibert Ruiz and Diego Cartaya, but there just isn’t room for them on the major league roster yet. With the way that Will Smith has looked offensively and the way that Austin Barnes can command a pitching staff, the Dodgers have more talent than they know what to do with.
As the spring draws to a close, one storyline to keep an eye on will be how the playing time will be split between Barnes and Smith. In an interview with reporters after Friday’s 7-2 win, Dave Roberts gave fans some clarity on the catching situation as the regular season draws nearer.
I think with Will [Smith] and Austin [Barnes], the sum is very good and I’ll take that against any combo in all of baseball, production-wise…I don’t know the divvying up of the playing time. But somewhere around 90 games [for Smith], something like that. I think that he can be a very impactful offensive player.
Having both players at their disposal is huge, as neither catcher has played more than 102 games behind the plate in one season. And while the jump from 60 games to 162 will be taxing for many clubs as they try and keep players fresh, the Dodgers will have the ability to rotate Smith and Barnes to keep them healthy for the postseason.
Still, this proposed workload mentioned by Doc seems somewhat surprising. Smith has quickly become one of the best catchers in the game with the bat. Over the offseason, MLB listed him as the third-best catcher in baseball, so only 90 games for the soon-to-be 26-year-old seems a little low at first glance.
Notably, both players have jumped out to hot starts this training camp, with Will Smith hitting .346 in 26 at-bats while Austin Barnes is hitting a scorching .391 over 23 at-bats. Between the two, Smith will see the bulk of the playing time, but it will be nice knowing that his backup is more than capable of filling in when called upon.