Texas Rangers: Spring Training battle for catcher could get interesting
By Kenneth Nash
Entering the offseason, catcher joined third base and starting pitching as the trio of positional groups in need of an upgrade. The catcher market in free agency was slim with only Yasmani Grandal as the only available option considered a top tier catcher in the league. However, the Rangers were able to make a significant upgrade on their current group by bringing back fan favorite Robinson Chirinos after his one season stint with the Houston Astros.
Chirinos had a stellar season for the Astros playing in 114 games and posting a .238 average along with a .790 OPS. He hit 17 home runs, the third straight season he’s matched that mark or higher and walked a career high 11.7% rate. His defensive was impressive as well finishing with a 3.0 FRAA, the highest mark of his career.
Texas also signed 27-year old Blake Swihart to a minor league deal after he split the 2019 season between the Red Sox and Diamondbacks. Swihart has long been a player connected to the Rangers and Texas is hoping the switch hitter can give them some additional depth behind the plate. Last season was a rough one for Swihart who hit just .163 with a .527 OPS in 43 games. However over the course of his career, Swihart has been a .243 hitter with a much more impressive .656 OPS and the Rangers will hope he can regain that form in their minor league system.
Joining Swihart on a minor league deal was free agent Nick Ciuffo, a 24-year old who was a first round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. Ciuffo, a left-handed hitter, has just 19 big league games under his belt hitting .186 with a .529 OPS. He’s struggled to make a big splash in the minors but represents a young reclamation project for Texas who is looking to add depth at the position throughout their organization.