Could Rangers be exploring upgrade at catcher?
Club confident in underrated Chirinos, but open to seeing what's out there
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- One area the Rangers would like to explore upgrading this offseason is catcher, where Robinson Chirinos got the bulk of the time this past season ahead of backups Chris Gimenez, Carlos Corporan and Bobby Wilson.
Because catcher is such a premium position, it's hard to fill on the free-agent market and difficult to address through trade, where teams are typically unwilling to move capable and productive catchers. Chirinos was limited to 78 games last season because of a shoulder injury, and he hit .232 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs. As a whole, the Rangers' catching contingent hit a combined .225 with 19 homers and 75 RBIs.
"Tough position to fill," general manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday at the General Managers Meetings at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. "I think that we have this industry-wide image of what you want, and we do, too, and it's easy to overlook what you have. I think Robinson is a little bit of an underrated player. Gimenez did a great job for us. You can always look to get better, and we will [explore] both depth and if there is an upgrade out there. We want to take inventory of the pluses those guys bring."
One intriguing name who could be on the market is Matt Wieters, who is weighing a qualifying offer from the Orioles. If he turns it down as expected, he'll become a free agent and will be looking for a three- or four-year deal that could price out many teams. A three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, Wieters hit .267 last season and has played in only 101 games the past two years.
Whether Texas would have interest remains to be seen.
In July, the Rangers traded top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels deal and catching prospect Tomas Telis to the Marlins in the Sam Dyson deal. That leaves Jose Trevino as probably the closest thing to a potential everyday catcher in Texas' Minor League system, but he's yet to play above Class A ball.
"There's still development there, but those were decisions we made last year and we don't regret them at all, but we understood it was going to leave a void in the system," Daniels said.
For now, the Rangers are banking on Chirinos, who missed a month last season with a left non-throwing shoulder injury. Daniels was asked if Chirinos would be able to play 100-110 games next year.
"I don't see why not," Daniels said. "The injury this past year was kind of a fluke deal, a non-throwing arm type deal. But he takes great care of himself and is in great shape and is still relatively young. Even for 31 years old, he hasn't taken a beating out there."