A look behind the Astros signing of Robinson Chirinos

Eric Huysman on Dec. 9, 2018

When on vacation on a cruise ship where your phone decides to go in into update mode without WiFi can make you a little disconnected. This happened as we were at dinner one night and my wife said, “who is Robinson Chirinos and why do the Astros want him?” With the dreams of trading for JT Realmuto or signing Wilson Ramos or Yasmani Grandal, that news was shocking. Luckily, she was following Brian McTaggart before we reached the dead zone known as the Gulf of Mexico.

As many Astros fans would say, that was a total Stros move. Instead of spending the big money or prospects to get one of the big names, they sign someone who was just bought out by the Rangers. The last place Rangers didn’t want him, why did the Astros?

Let’s take a step back from being an Astros fanboy and look at the Rangers situation. The move makes sense. They are going into a rebuilding mold similar to the Mariners. Why would they want to pay $4 plus million for a 34-year-old catcher? The Rangers are looking to save money and get younger. Chirinos is not what you would call a starting catcher. Last year was the first time that he surpassed 100 games played. They were looking to save a buck or two.

A look at the Astros side.

On the Astros side, they were desperate for a catcher with Brian McCann returning to the Braves and Martin Maldonado still a free agent. With Chirinos, you know what you will get, an average defender with some pop. He did play in a career-high 113 games, but his counting stats took a nosedive despite career highs in home runs and RBI. Chirinos almost doubled his strikeouts from 2017, but that tends to happen when you play more.

Behind the plate, you wonder what the Astros were thinking. He threw out 10% of the batters trying to steal a base off him. To put it another way, players trying to steal a base got an A. He is not known as an elite defender, but he was a move to build some type of depth at the catching position.

What this signing, Chirinos joins Stassi as the only catchers with MLB service time on the roster. He is offensively an upgrade over Chris Herrmann, but not defensively. Defensively, Stassi would get the nod over Chirinos, as he is one of the great pitch framers in baseball. Stassi has shown offensive potential in the past but has been streaky at the plate. If no more moves are made, they would likely split time. Look for Stassi to get the larger amount, but the Astros did spend $5.75 million on Chirinos.

There is always a chance that they go out and get another catcher? They have carried three catchers before. If they added another catcher, Stassi is out of options so they would have to without risking losing him. Fans may be waiting for the big move. You may see a big move soon. Will it be for a star catcher? Maybe another bat? We will see what happens at the Winter Meetings.

This move gives the Astros another catching option in case they can’t find another. The core of the team is still here, no need to panic.

***Stats via Baseball-Reference***

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