Dodgers: 4 roster battles to watch in spring training 2.0

Austin Barnes, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Austin Barnes, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

1) Dodgers roster battles: Will Smith vs Austin Barnes

Former first round pick Will Smith appears ready to take on the full-time catching duties, but when spring training was suspended in mid-March, it seemed like manager Dave Roberts was leaning toward a “partnership” between Smith and Austin Barnes.

Smith caught 46 games during his first exposure to major league pitching last year. He handled himself well behind the plate while displaying his raw power with 15 home runs and 42 RBIs.

The veteran Barnes is not going to excite anyone with his bat, but his defense is unmatched and his pitch-framing is important for Dodgers pitchers. The 30-year-old was off to a hot start in Cactus League play before things shut down. If he can improve his performance on offense, he could pose a threat to Smith’s quest to take over the everyday catching duties this season.

The Dodgers will have three weeks to get ready for the season, but there won’t be any game action beyond scrimmages to evaluate which backstop is ready for a potential breakout season. As most things this year, that will be decided on the fly during the regular season.