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Matt Barnes

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Matthew David Barnes

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Matt Barnes was a first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He won a World Series ring in 2018.

Amateur Career[edit]

Barnes was All-State as a senior in high school. As a college freshman at the UCONN, he was 5-3 with a save, a 5.43 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 53 innings. That summer, he had a 1-3, 4.78 record for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod League, striking out 33 in 26 1/3 innings. As a sophomore in 2010, he improved to 8-3, 3.92. He was All-Big East Conference, joining Corey Baker, Neil Holland and Thomas Royse as the pitchers chosen. He started the summer back in Cape Cod, going 1-2 with a 2.18 ERA, 12 hits and 20 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings for Wareham. Baseball America rated him the 3rd best prospect in that elite loop, behind Anthony Ranaudo and Huskies teammate George Springer, just ahead of Wareham teammate Jed Bradley. He then joined Team USA, going 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA. He was excellent in his lone outing in their big event, the 2010 World University Championship, with 3 hits, 1 walk and 8 whiffs in 7 shutout innings against Canada. The United States won the Silver Medal.

Barnes continued to blossom as a junior, with a 11-5, 1.93 record, .187 opponent average and 117 strikeouts in 121 innings. He was named the Big East Pitcher of the Year and picked by the Boston Red Sox 19th overall in the 2011 amateur draft, the second-highest UCONN pick ever after Springer, 8 choices prior by the Houston Astros (both men usurping Mike Olt, 49th overall in 2010). The choice was compensation for the loss of Víctor Martínez to free agency. In his next outing, in the Super Regionals of the College World Series, Matt was shredded for 8 hits and 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the University of South Carolina to raise his ERA from 1.62 to his final 1.93. He finished second in Huskies history in strikeouts. He signed with the Sox for a $1.5 million bonus; the scout was Ray Fagnant.

Professional Career[edit]

Barnes made his pro debut with the Greenville Drive with a stellar showing against the Lakewood BlueClaws on April 8, 2012. He allowed two hits and two walks in five shutout innings while fanning nine for the win. He reached the majors with the Red Sox when rosters expanded in September 2014 and pitched 5 times with no decisions and an ERA of 4.00. In 2015, he split his time between the minors and the majors. With Boston, he pitched 32 times, with two of the outings being starts, and went 3-4, 5.44 while logging 43 innings. Things went a lot better in 2016 as he settled in as one of the set-up men for new closer Craig Kimbrel while the team found itself among the three teams fighting for the AL East crown. On August 9, he earned his first career save under stressful circumstances, as Kimbrel had just loaded the bases against the New York Yankees in the 9th inning and walked in a run to cut Boston's lead to 5-3. Barnes took over and struck out Mark Teixeira to end the game and preserve Rick Porcello's 15th victory of the year.

On April 24, 2017, he was handed a four-game suspension for having thrown a ball at Manny Machado's head a day earlier. The incident came at the end of a tense series between the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, with the Sox blaming Machado for a violent slide that injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Since 2017, he has been a workhorse in the Boston pen, averaging 67 appearances, 65 innings pitched with an ERA around 3.75. He was a member of the Red Sox 2018 World Series-winning team.

Barnes was included on Boston's Opening Day roster to start the 2019 season. He appeared in 70 games, recording a 5–4 record with 4 saves, a 3.78 ERA, and 110 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. During the pandemic-delayed 2020 season, Barnes was the team's de facto closer after Brandon Workman was traded. Overall, Barnes appeared in 24 games, all in relief, compiling a 1–3 record with 9 saves, a 4.70 ERA, and 31 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched.

In early December 2020, Barnes and the Red Sox reached a one-year deal for the 2021 season, worth a reported $4.5 million. Barnes began the year as the team's closer, recording 6 saves in the first month of the season and being named the American League Reliever of the Month for April. On July 4th, he was named to the American League roster for the MLB All-Star Game. On July 11th, the Red Sox reached an agreement with Barnes on a two-year contract extension, including a team option for the 2024 season. However, he had a tough second half, going 2-3, 6.48 in 22 games after the break to finish at 6-5, 3.79 in 60 games, with 24 saves. He had lost the closer's job by the time the postseason rolled around and only pitched one inning, walking two batters, in three series.

Barnes' woes continued in 2022, as he was unable to regain the closer's job even though no one emerged to nail down the role. He finished at 0-4, 4.31 in 44 games with 8 saves and 21 walks in 39 2/3 innings. In this case, however, his splits were reversed compared to the previous season: he had an awful first half, with an ERA of 7.94 in 20 games, but pitched well in the late months, with a 1.59 ERA and 6 saves in 24 games after the All-Star Game after missing time with shoulder inflammation. So it looked like he was turning things around, but on January 24, 2023, he was designated for assignment after the Red Sox signed free agent outfielder Adam Duvall. On January 30th, he was traded to the Miami Marlins in return for lefty specialist Richard Bleier. At the time of the trade, he was the longest-tenured player on the Red Sox, and his 429 games pitched were third in team history, after Bob Stanley and Tim Wakefield.

Barnes boasts a mid-90s fastball in his arsenal.

Notable Achievements[edit]


Further Reading[edit]

  • Christina De Nicola: "Matt Barnes traded to Marlins from Boston",, January 30, 2023. [1]

Related Sites[edit]