Will Smith Called up by Los Angeles Dodgers, Austin Barnes Demoted

Will Smith
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 23: Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a walk-off two run homerun, for a 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies, during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

For weeks now, Dodger fans have watched top prospect Will Smith crush baseballs in Triple-A. All the while, they were forced to deal with the abysmal offensive production of Austin Barnes. But all that changed today, as Barnes was officially sent down to Triple-A. Smith will take his spot on the 25 man roster, and will join the team on Friday in Washington to face off against the Nationals.

The move is unsurprising, but long overdue. For the past season and a half, Barnes has looked lost at the plate. After batting .205 with a somewhat decent .329 OBP in 2018, Barnes has been even worse this year, slashing .196/.288/.328.

Will Smith Called up by Los Angeles Dodgers, Austin Barnes Demoted

Will Smith Is Here to Stay

Smith impressed during a short stint in the big leagues earlier this season. He hit three home runs in just nine games. His OPS of .999 shows the 24-year-old’s potential to be a true offensive force while providing stellar defense behind the plate. At Oklahoma City, he has 20 home runs and an OPS of .986. MLB.com also rated Smith a 60 in terms of defense.

In limited big league action, Smith already has two walk-off home runs. During his first callup, he hit a game-winning homer off Philadelphia Phillies closer Hector Neris.

A little more than two weeks later, Smith hit another walk-off smash. The Colorado Rockies intentionally walked Russell Martin to get to the rookie, but Smith made them pay with a three-run bomb.

Barnes Has Disappointed, but This Isn’t the Last Stop on the Road for Him

As much as Dodger fans are happy to see Barnes off the MLB roster, it’s sad to see his decline, as he was once a very promising player. Coming over with Kike Hernandez in the trade that sent Dee Gordon to Miami, Barnes wowed everyone in his third year as a Dodger in 2017, where he hit .289 with a .895 OPS. He even usurped Yasmani Grandal out of the starting catching job in the playoffs.

Barnes, now 29, still provides solid defense behind the plate, and will probably be back in the majors once rosters expand in September. Spending time in the minors could also benefit Barnes. He could use this as an opportunity to reset and fix his swing.

Smith Can Help Fix the Problem

Smith figures to inject a surge of energy into the Los Angeles lineup. So far in 2019, they’ve gotten poor offensive production from the tandem of Barnes and Russell Martin. The Dodgers are hoping Smith will give the lineup a much-needed right-handed power bat, as the rookie will likely take over the starting job.

More Moves to Come

This move comes on the heels of the Dodgers trading for Tyler White. White, 28, was designated for assignment by the Houston Astros, who agreed to trade him to the Dodgers for minor league reliever Andre Scrubb.

White hit 12 homers and posted a .888 OPS last year. However, this year he’s hitting just .225. But he still gives Los Angeles some right-handed depth. Also, both Kike Hernandez and David Freese are potentially looking at time on the Injured List.

These look to be the first of many moves ahead of the July 31st trading deadline. You can read more here about the Dodgers trade deadline needs.

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