Texas Rangers Position Evaluations: Catcher

Jul 3, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos (61) and relief pitcher Anthony Bass (63) during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Angels defeated the Rangers 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 3, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos (61) and relief pitcher Anthony Bass (63) during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Angels defeated the Rangers 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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With Spring Training games just a few short days away, the Texas Rangers look to veterans to handle the catching duties for 2016.

Current Options:

As Spring Training games approach, Robinson Chirinos, 31, is the clear cut leader on the depth chart for Texas behind the plate. The veteran from Venezuela is entering his fourth season for the Rangers and expectations for him have been raised for the new season. Last year, Chirinos hit .232 with a .325 on-base percentage and 10 homeruns. He played in only 78 games for Texas being hampered by injury much of the season. During the offseason, the Texas Rangers and Chirinos avoided arbitration by agreeing to a 1-year, $1.55 million deal that was an amicable contract for both sides.

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Behind Chirinos, Texas has Chris Gimenez, 33, who is going into his second year with the club. In 36 games for the Rangers last season, Gimenez hit .255/.330/.490 with 5 long balls and 14 RBI. As backup statistics numbers go, these aren’t bad, showing that he has the ability to be an adequate back of the lineup hitter and he’s only due $975,000 in 2016. Where Gimenez adds some benefit as well is his ability to be versatile on the field, spending time at both first base and third base in the past two seasons. While Gimenez presents a good option for the Texas Rangers when Chirinos needs a day off, if injury continues to plague Chirinos, Texas will likely have to make an adjustment to bring in a more consistent player.

In the System:

Over the offseason, the Rangers signed Michael McKenry, 30, to a minor league contract. McKenry spent 2015 with the Colorado Rockies where he played in 58 games and hit .205 with a .329 on-base percentage. McKenry adds immediate depth to Texas’ catching group but offers little in way of on-field benefit and future potential. His main use would consist of a quick fix for injury issues and potential call-up if one of the catchers needs some extra rest.

Along with McKenry, Texas has Bobby Wilson, 32, who was acquired by the club at the trade deadline of last season and brought in as a defensive option and extra depth during September call-ups. Wilson hit .221 once he got the Rangers but where his main value lies is his ability to call a game defensively. Currently, Wilson will be a great asset to have when developing young pitchers because of his experience and baseball IQ.

Free Agents:

Texas currently is not in dire need of a new catcher but the need may arise out of injury or player performance. If the need does arise though, likely the Rangers will have to look to a trade to provide that spark behind the dish. All major names on the market have been snatched up by this point and any catching free agents remaining serve as nothing more than minor league roster fillers.

Position Grade: C-

Despite the nice feeling of having the starting catcher issue worked out prior to Spring Training, the Texas Rangers still will need to address this position moving forward. In the next year or so, Chirinos and Texas would be best served if he transitioned to a backup role, and a more consistent player was brought in to fill the position.

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