As expected, former Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos has signed with another team.
When the Astros re-signed Martin Maldonado after adding Dustin Garneau, it appeared all but certain that Robinson Chirinos would play elsewhere in 2020. That is indeed the case, as news broke Tuesday evening that Chirinos has agreed to a deal to return to the Rangers.
Chirinos, of course, played six seasons with the in-state rivals before coming to Houston on a one-year free agent deal for the 2019 season. All told, he hit .233/.325/.443 in 442 games for the Rangers, establishing himself as an above-average hitter for his position.
That reputation stayed true for Chirinos in his lone season with the Astros. He gave the club a .238/.347/.443 line with 17 homers, 22 doubles and 58 RBIs in 114 games. He set career highs in games played, at-bats, plate appearances, hits, doubles and runs scored.
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However, he was below league average when it came to gunning down baserunners, throwing out 21 percent of would-be base stealers. That checks in just under his career average of 24 percent. Still, his 2019 season was worth about 3.8 wins above replacement, per Baseball-Reference.
Chirinos’ deal with the Rangers is reported to be $5.75 million for the 2020 season with a club option for 2021 valued at $6.5 million with a $1 million buyout. This means he is guaranteed at least $6.75 million (the 2020 salary plus the buyout).
What’s interesting is Chirinos also earned $5.75 million with the Astros in 2019, though the buyout getting tacked on acts as something akin to a raise. Still, he’s making more money than Maldonado, who signed for an average salary of $3.5 million.
With the team in a payroll crunch, the front office decided to go for the defense-first catcher on a cheaper deal than the offense-first catcher. With such a high-powered lineup already in place, it’s a trade-off they can afford to make at a premium defensive position.
Still, Chirinos will be missed. He caught all of Justin Verlander‘s regular season innings in his Cy Young Award-winning campaign and was clearly beloved by his teammates and many fans alike. He served the team well in his brief tenure. Best of luck to Chirinos, just as long as it doesn’t come against the Astros.