Former Texas Rangers catcher and free agent target Robinson Chirinos is reportedly nearing a decision on his next destination.
The Texas Rangers are still in the market for a catching upgrade this offseason and it seems their top target Robinson Chirinos is nearing a decision on his baseball future. Formerly a core piece of the Rangers organization and a long-time fan favorite, the club has been linked with a reunion and has reportedly had discussions with the veteran about coming back to Arlington. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported on Thursday that Chirinos joins former teammate Will Harris as the likely free agents to be next off the board.
While upgrading at catcher isn’t necessarily a priority for the Rangers this offseason in that they have two already on their big league roster, the club got historically bad production from their backstops last season. The catching tandem at this time would seem to be Jose Trevino and Jeff Mathis who likely would split time pretty much down the middle. While Trevino represents a younger option with room to grow and showed flashes late last season, Jeff Mathis was ehh defensively (his specialty) and an all-time liability at the plate.
Adding the 35-year old Chirinos would likely spell the end of Mathis’ time in Arlington as the club would be willing to eat the remainder of his contract. Chirinos had a resurgent season last year with the Astros posting a career-high 2.3 fWAR. He hit .238 in 114 games with a .790 OPS and a career-high peak 113 wRC+. While Robby C is not necessarily known for his defensive prowess, he did finish 29th among catchers in Fielding Runs Above Average at 3.0, 14 spots higher than Trevino and a stunning 57 spots higher than Mathis.
It’s unknown at this point who is the frontrunner for Chirinos but other teams noted as having interest include the Rockies, Astros, Rays and Pirates. It’s logical to assume that Texas and Houston would be the lead two options as Chirinos has recent experience with both organizations. Things didn’t exactly end super well between Robinson and the Rangers after the club declined to exercise his option despite his desire to return to the club. However, it does feel like both sides would be open to a reunion and Chirinos would be a great player to have back in Arlington for the opening of Globe Life Field.