The Texas Rangers recalled Jose Trevino on Friday to replace an injured Robinson Chirinos. This promotion for the catcher should be his last.
On Friday the Texas Rangers placed catcher Robinson Chirinos on the 10-day Injured List with a sprained right ankle. In a corresponding move, the club recalled Jose Trevino, who opened the season with the Rangers but was sent down when the big league rosters were trimmed from 30 to 28 players. Trevino will join Jeff Mathis as the catching tandem for Texas for the meantime but this he should be a permanent addition to the Rangers’ roster.
Trevino made his big league debut in 2018 and saw extended time in Arlington last year but still was unable to lock down a permanent role at the big league level. He performed fairly well hitting .258 last season and posting a .655 OPS which while underwhelming on the surface, far outperformed the marks set by other Rangers’ catchers.
Trevino’s value as a catcher though comes from his defensive ability. In his time with the Rangers organization Trevino landed a pair of MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove Awards during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In his 297.2 innings behind the plate last season, Trevino was also the highest rated Rangers’ catcher using Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average at 0.5, good for 22nd in the league. He led Tim Federowicz (-0.6), Jeff Mathis (-2.8) and Isiah Kiner-Falefa (-9.3). He also was inside the Top 25 among Major league catchers in Called Strikes Above Average.
Moving forward, Trevino should be a part of the Rangers’ roster. Texas has continued to see struggles from their catching tandem despite adding Robinson Chirinos in free agency this year. Jeff Mathis has outperformed his standard career production at the plate but it looks like his hot start is cooling off with the veteran posting just two hits in his last 13 at-bats. With a career average of just .195, it can be expected that the 37-year old will regress towards the mean. However when the first initial cuts to the roster came which prompted Texas to lean away from having three active catchers, Mathis’ rapport with the starting rotation, specifically Mike Minor, made him hard to part ways with. If the club did opt to keep Chirinos over Mathis it would mean they would have to designate Mathis for assignment and while they’re trying to get Mike Minor on track, that’s a tough pill to swallow.
Chirinos’ struggles though have been a bit more of a surprise and also put Texas in a predicament. Chirinos was brought in to be the main offensive threat for Texas from their catching corp after his resurgent year with the Astros in 2019. However, the fan favorite has struggled at the plate opening the year with a .129 average across 11 games. In a normal year, that sample size would be partially dismissed but with Texas hanging in the playoff race, the club needs someone who brings more value at the plate and behind it. Chirinos though is due $5.75 million this season with a $1 million buyout for 2021 making a scenario where Texas just eats his contract to open roster space for Trevino unlikely.
Similar to the situation last year, Trevino is hindered by the fact that he can still be optioned off the big league roster meaning the club doesn’t have to permanently part ways with him. But Texas has hit a crossroads where they need to decide whether keeping him at the Alternate Training Site regularly just to ensure they don’t lose Mathis or Chirinos makes sense. Trevino has more than earned a long-term look at the big league level and now with Chirinos sidelined, Trevino has another chance to state his case. The fact of the matter is, the Texas Rangers need to find a way to keep him in Arlington this time.