Dodgers add postseason-eligible veteran catcher, put pressure on Austin Barnes

Negative WAR isn't going to cut it.
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

Not saying Los Angeles Dodgers backup catcher Austin Barnes and his remarkable -1.0 bWAR are in danger of missing the team's postseason roster, but Wednesday's move would indicate Andrew Friedman is still open to any and all options to improve this team's chances.

Barnes has been a steady Dodger in recent seasons and a stalwart behind the plate in select postseason contests -- most notably Clayton Kershaw starts. He handled the future Hall of Fame lefty in Games 1 and 5 of the 2020 World Series, and mashed a homer in a Game 3 start that fall.

This year, though, Barnes has tested the limits of how far the Dodgers are willing to go with a roster spot just to maintain continuity. Offense has never been his calling card or strong suit, but a 22 OPS+ represents a new low.

Difficult roster decisions abound in October, and while the recently-extended Barnes (just last summer!) will likely win out in the end, Los Angeles pounced ahead of Thursday's postseason roster eligibility deadline and nabbed a potential alternative.

Tucker Barnhart, who made his name with the Reds and played in Chicago this season after a one-year stay in Detroit, will be joining the Oklahoma City Dodgers on a minor-league pact. He will be playoff eligible if he proves his mettle in the minors.

Dodgers sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to minor-league deal

Let's get the tough part out of the way quickly: No, Barnhart has not been much better than Barnes this season. He's subtracted a modest half-WAR from the playoff-contending Cubbies, hitting .202 with a single homer and 47 OPS+ in 109 big-league at-bats.

In the end, the Kershaw Factor will probably be enough to push the Dodgers back to Barnes' corner. But kudos to Friedman for nabbing an experienced name/someone who was a sought-after addition just last winter at the buzzer and giving himself additional options.