Rangers reunite with Chirinos on one-year deal
We’ve dipped our toes into 2020, and despite the frenzied early pace of the offseason a number of notable free agents and trade candidates remain on their respective markets. Speaking of which, Tuesday occasioned a handful of semi-notable signings:
The Texas Rangers have agreed on a one-year, .75 million deal with a 2021 club option with free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. His salary for 2020 will be .75 million, and the club option is for .5 million in 2021 with a million buyout, Feinsand reports.
Chirinos, 35, was a member of the Rangers for six seasons before signing with the Houston Astros during free agency in December of 2018. In his age-35 season, he hit .238/.347/.443 with an OPS of 790 (OPS+ 105) for Houston, recording 17 home runs, 22 doubles and 58 RBI in a career-high 366 plate appearances. Chirinos was the Astros’ No. 1 catcher last season, helping the club reach the World Series. Overall, he started 106 games as catcher for Houston, and on Sept. 1, Chirinos caught Justin Verlander’s third career against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Nats still interested in Donaldson
Donaldson, a former AL MVP who turned 34 earlier this offseason, is fresh off an impressive bounce-back season with the Braves. In 155 games with Atlanta, Donaldson put up a 127 OPS+ with 37 home runs. He also logged almost 1,300 defensive innings at the hot corner and according to advanced defensive metrics got back to being a force with the glove.
The champion Nationals have brought in a number of possible mix-and-match replacements for star third baseman Anthony Rendon, who wound up signing with the Angels. The Nats re-upped with Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera and also added Starlin Castro to the fold. As well, top prospect Carter Kieboom saw time at third in the minors last season and could no doubt handle the position defensively. Right now, Cabrera seems likely to be the primary at the hot corner for D.C. in 2020, but they may still be in the running for the top third baseman available. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Nats remain in the running for free agent Josh Donaldson, and Jon Heyman adds that they’re leaving their offer to Donaldson — reportedly nine figures — on the table for now.
Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers have signed veteran right-hander Jimmy Nelson to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2021. According to Castillo, the deal will pay Nelson a little more than million guaranteed for the upcoming season with incentives that could push it to more than million.
Dodgers add Nelson
The incumbent Braves followed by the Twins are likely the favorites to land Donaldson, but of course such situations remain fluid until ink is on paper. As for the Nats, they still have room under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold to afford Donaldson, and despite the crowded infield situation he’d be a substantial upgrade over what’s presently in place.
Chirinos, who will turn 36 in June, is expected to suffer from some regression next season, but the veteran backstop will still add an upgrade to the Rangers offense, one that saw its catchers struggle to consistently hit at the plate. After signing catcher Jeff Mathis to a last winter, Mathis hit .158/.209/.224 in 86 games during the 2019 season. Mathis’ defense was just as bad, and he posted defensive worsts of his 15-year long MLB career, recording a -1 Defensive Runs Saved after finishing with 17 DRS with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018. The Rangers owe Mathis million for the 2020 season, but there is still the possibility that the club cuts him loose. Last season’s backup catcher Jose Trevino saw some better numbers at the plate, hitting .258/.272/.383 in 40 games last season. It’s likely that Texas will send Trevino to Triple-A, and keep Mathis as Chirinos’ backup to start the 2020 season.