Rumor: Astros close to signing catcher Robinson Chirinos

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NAGOYA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 15: Catcher Robinson Chirinos #61 of the Texas Rangers strikes out in the bottom of 8th inning during the game six between Japan and MLB All Stars at Nagoya Dome on November 15, 2018 in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
NAGOYA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 15: Catcher Robinson Chirinos #61 of the Texas Rangers strikes out in the bottom of 8th inning during the game six between Japan and MLB All Stars at Nagoya Dome on November 15, 2018 in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros may be closing in on a one-year deal for the acquisition of catcher Robinson Chirinos of the Texas Rangers.

According to Ken Rosenthal of MLB on Fox, Houston is close to signing Robinson Chirinos to a contract, barring the passing of a physical. Chirinos would be a low-cost solution to filling the vacancy at the catcher position. Are the Astros setting themselves up for a high profile trade?

Chirinos, 34, became a free agent after the Rangers declined the one-year option for the 2019 season. Last year he earned $2.25 million, making him a much more economical choice over star catchers like J.T. Realmuto or Yasmani Grandal.

Chirinos has a .233 batting average over his six years with the Rangers. In 2018, Chirinos hit 18 HRs and batted in 65 runs in 113 appearances behind the plate. He is an above average defensive catcher, rating well at blocking balls in the dirt and framing pitches. Chirinos has thrown out 25% of attempted stolen bases over his career.

He and Jose Altuve are good friends and discussed the possibility of playing together on the same team some day.

Assuming the Astros have completed their search for a primary catcher, Chirinos will most likely partner with Max Stassi as the backstop team. Stassi played his largest role with the Astros last season while filling in for injured Brian McCann. He hit .227 with 27 RBIs in 88 games last season. His playing time decreased after Houston acquired Martin Maldonado in their run for the postseason.

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With the signing of Chirinos all but official, it appears the Astros will no longer be searching for that high-dollar elite catcher. This will leave a lot of salary room for Houston, allowing them to concentrate on filling other voids in their 2019 roster. Are they possibly keeping the door open to make a blockbuster deal at the upcoming Winter Meetings? A Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke package deal? Maybe A. J. Pollock in the outfield? Only time will tell.

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