Should the Texas Rangers pick up Robinson Chirinos’ 2019 option?

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CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 30: Robinson Chirinos #61 of the Texas Rangers hits a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 30, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 30: Robinson Chirinos #61 of the Texas Rangers hits a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 30, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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The Texas Rangers will need to decide on Robinson Chirinos‘ 2019 club option. That decision may be made based on another decision at the catching position.

Somewhere on the Texas Rangers offseason to-do list is deciding whether or not to exercise Robinson Chirinos’ 2019 contract option. If they decide to, Chirinos will be owed $2.375 million next season. He has now spent six years behind the plate with the Rangers, some time in the backup role and some time in the starting role. His offensive productivity has been sporadic at best, but he means a lot more to the organization than what he can and cannot do with his bat.

The 34-year-old has become a leader in a young clubhouse. His teammates speak highly of him and he clearly sets a certain tone with his positive attitude and evident work ethic. Between the lines, Chirinos is a great backstop. He is outstanding at blocking the ball and he’s improved over the years at throwing out attempted base stealers.

Whatever he may lack in ability, he makes up for in intelligence and leadership. He definitely handles the pitching staff with great control, and that is not easy to do considering the number of pitchers the Rangers throw at him in a given year.

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HOUSTON, TX – APRIL 15: Robinson Chirinos #61 of the Texas Rangers doubles in two runs in the tenth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 15, 2018 in Houston, Texas. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

What’s $2.375 million to a MLB franchise anyway? Surely the Texas Rangers are willing to pay one of their team leaders that amount, right? It may not be that simple.

First and foremost, the Rangers need to decide what Isiah Kiner-Falefa‘s role will be next year. For Chirinos’ sake, it comes down to one decision…is Kiner-Falefa going to be the primary catcher in 2019 or not?

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If yes, then maybe Texas doesn’t need Chirinos. They may look to Jose Trevino to take on the backup role or they may look to sign a free agent catcher for even less than what they would have paid Chirinos. Or, they could turn down Chirinos’ club option and re-sign him for less.

The problem there is Chirinos is a good catcher. If the Rangers let him free then another team will most certainly throw him a contract offer.

My assumption is Texas will plan on Kiner-Falefa as the primary catcher; yet, his role as catcher will not be set in stone. After all, the 23-year-old was groomed as an infielder. The Rangers may very well handle next year’s catching situation like they did the second half of 2018. Moreover, they’ll split the catching position between Kiner-Falefa and Chirinos. Perhaps IKF will be behind the plate three out of every five games and Chirinos will catch the other two.

This solution keeps both players fresh in the summer heat and it gives Kiner-Falefa the opportunity to flex in at infield positions and afford everyday infielders the occasional breather. In addition, the Rangers would be minimizing the wear placed on Kiner-Falefa’s body by cutting down his starts behind the plate (at least slightly).

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Chirinos would be a great mentor to IKF and his selflessness will prevent any frustration over playing time. The Texas Rangers will be in great shape behind the plate with the one-two punch of Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Robinson Chirinos. In fact, Chirinos would compete as the most valuable backup catcher in Major League Baseball. But the Rangers will need to exercise his 2019 club option first.

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