Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes was slated for free agency after this season, but it looks like he’ll be around a little while longer. Barnes has a new two-year contract extension worth $7 million guaranteed that will take him through the 2024 season, announced by the team on Sunday afternoon.
Barnes will be paid $3.5 million in both 2023 and 2024. The Associated Press added that Barnes’ contract includes a $3.5 million club option for 2025, and that the catcher can earn up to $500,000 annually in performance bonuses:
- $50,000 for each of 65 and 70 games
- $75,000 for 75 games
- $150,000 for 80 games
- $175,000 for 85 games
Barnes is making $2.6 million in 2022, the final season of a two-year, $4.3 million contract signed before the 2021 season, which covered his final two years eligible for salary arbitration. Barnes can also make an extra $100,000 for each of 70 and 80 games played this year. Sunday is his 31st game of the season for the Dodgers, who reach the halfway point of the season on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old catcher entered Sunday hitting .188/.320/.375, a 101 wRC+ with four home runs and 15 walks in 97 plate appearances. His 15.5-percent walk rate is second-highest on the team, trailing only Max Muncy. Fifty-six catchers have batted at least 80 times this season, and Barnes is one of only 16 with at least a 100 wRC+, the line that represents an average batter across all positions.
Barnes is revered by pitchers, teammates, and coaches for his work behind the plate as a receiver and calling a game. Measurable statistics agree, with Barnes ranking seventh in the majors in catcher framing by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball Savant, and eighth by FanGraphs, despite catching only a third of the Dodgers’ innings.
During Friday’s game against the Padres, Mookie Betts was interviewed for a few innings on the SportsNet LA broadcast, and praised the catcher during Barnes’ at-bat.
“We’ve gotta get Barnesy a C on his jersey. He is the captain,” Betts said. “We’ve got to get him the C on his jersey. I don’t know how we can make that happen, but we need to.”
The push for Barnes’ captaincy was started by Trea Turner, who had shirts made, with Barnes’ name and number on the back and a “C” on the front, earlier in the season, especially after Barnes’ hot start, including the Dodgers’ first home run of the season and homered in his first two starts.
I started calling him captain, and it kind of stuck,” Turner told David Vassegh on AM 570 earlier this season. “He hates it, so I had these shirts made to make everyone know he’s our fearless leader. I remind him every single day. He’s one of the many special people that we have here. He contributes, and these shirts were my gift to him.”
Barnes was acquired from the Marlins in a three-team trade also involving the Angels during the hectic winter meetings in December 2014 (a deal that also included current teammate Andrew Heaney), and made his major league debut in 2015. He’s the sixth-longest tenured Dodger in the organization, behind only Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Victor González, Cody Bellinger, and Justin Turner. As for time in the majors, only Kershaw and Turner got to Los Angeles before Barnes.
This is the second in-season contract extension signed by the Dodgers this year. Reliever Blake Treinen, who has been on the injured list since April, signed a one-year, $8 million contract for 2023 on May 22, replacing the club option the team had on him for next season.