After weeks of speculation of it being a possibility, the Rangers have finally brought back an old friend.
According to numerous reports on Tuesday night, Robinson Chirinos is headed back to Arlington. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the deal is for one year and with a team option for the 2021 season. Mark Feinsand is reporting the salaries would be $5.75M in 2020 and $6.5M in 2021 with a $1M buyout if Texas declines the team option.
After becoming a major league late bloomer at the age of 27 for Tampa Bay in 2011, Chirinos joined the Rangers in 2013 and found his major league footing while appearing in 442 games over the course of six seasons with the team. He had an interesting exit last offseason when the team declined a very team friendly club option in favor of signing Jeff Mathis for similar money and Chirinos headed down I-45 to help the Houston Astros make it to their second World Series in three years.
While everyone from media, coaches and teammates have made it abundantly clear that the 35 year-old Chirinos is the ultimate teammate and likely even a future manager, this signing by the Rangers is more than just bringing back a fan favorite for sake of good PR. Texas more or less got nothing from its catchers on offense in 2019 and Chirinos should greatly improve that if he’s able to repeat the success at the plate he had with the Astros.
I’m seeing some negativity surrounding a reunion w/ Chirinos. Let’s take a look at Chirinos vs #Rangers catchers from 2019.
Pitch Framing Strike %:
— Chris Halicke (@ChrisHalicke) January 8, 2020
*Major props to Chris at Rangers Maven for this awesome breakdown*
Simply put, Texas could have had a pitcher bat in the catcher’s slot for most of the 2019 season and received similar results. The combination of catchers like Jeff Mathis, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino were incredibly underwhelming for the vast majority of the year. While Chirinos isn’t going to be winning any batting titles, his .790 OPS will fit nicely as a respectable right-handed bat with pop in the back half of the Texas lineup in 2020.
With Texas’ 40-man roster currently full, the team will have to make a move to clear a roster spot before officially signing Chirinos. It will also be interesting to see if Texas looks to keep three catchers on their 40-man roster or if Jeff Mathis could be a candidate to be DFA’d.
Robinson Chirinos with an inspiring message after hitting another World Series home run. This is a must listen! pic.twitter.com/Zr6JcxCrU2
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) October 27, 2019
Chirinos was a role player on two division champions for Texas in 2015 and 2016 in addition to his trip to the Fall Classic with the Astros last season. The guy has fought hard to carve out a beyond respectable career as a contributor for a few great teams. If the Rangers are able to take the steps towards contention in 2020 or 2021, having a voice like Chirinos will be an asset in more places than just on the diamond. With plenty of the players from the 2017 Rangers still around, it should be an easy transition back to the clubhouse for Chirinos once the team reports to Surprise, Arizona next month.
Despite just a one year absence, the fans certainly missed Robinson in 2019 and it seems like the feeling was mutual.
I remember sitting with Chirinos last year before a game. The Astros were seemingly on top of the baseball world. He said he was having fun, but that he and his family missed the Rangers. Now he’s back.
— Jared Sandler (@JaredSandler) January 8, 2020