ARLINGTON -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus did not opt out of his contract on Friday as expected. The bigger surprise for the Rangers was when they declined a $4.5 million option on catcher Robinson Chirinos, making him a free agent.The move leaves converted infielder Isiah-Kiner Falefa as their No. 1
ARLINGTON -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus did not opt out of his contract on Friday as expected. The bigger surprise for the Rangers was when they declined a $4.5 million option on catcher Robinson Chirinos, making him a free agent.
The move leaves converted infielder Isiah-Kiner Falefa as their No. 1 catcher. Rookie Jose Trevino, who is coming off surgery on his left shoulder, is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster.
Chirinos had a base salary of $2.375 million for 2019, but Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said incentive escalators raised that to $4.5 million. That still seemed to be a reasonable price for the Rangers' No. 1 catcher this past season.
But Chirinos has slipped defensively and that might have been the tipping point for the Rangers. Chirinos hit .222 this past season while setting career highs with 18 home runs and 65 RBIs. His 113 games played was also a career high. However, he only threw out six of 59 attempted basestealers.
"We gave a lot of thought to that one," Daniels said. "I had a chance to meet with Robinson this week. Explained our decision. He has certainly performed very well for us. Absolutely love the human being. Very good offensive catcher. We wanted to explore some things in the market place. We haven't necessarily closed the door on Robby, just the timing, we weren't ready to commit. We want to explore potential alternatives behind the plate."
One possible factor is there are a number of interesting catchers on the free-agent market, including Wilson Ramos and Brian McCann. Yasmani Grandal is also a free agent, but received a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers. But the Rangers are also a team that will need to devote considerable financial resources toward starting pitching.
Chirinos was one of four players who had their options declined by the Rangers on Friday. The others were pitchers Doug Fister, Matt Moore and Martin Perez. Fister and Moore were expected. There was some doubt about Perez, but the Rangers finally decided to move on from a 27-year-old left-hander who was once their top pitching prospect.
Perez went 13-12 with a 4.82 ERA in 32 starts for the Rangers in 2017, and the club exercised a $6 million option over the winter. That was before Perez sustained a broken radial bone in the tip of his right (non-throwing) elbow that required surgery in December.
Perez ended up struggling for most of the season, going 2-7 with a 6.22 ERA over 15 starts and seven relief appearances. He was sent to the bullpen in August after being a starter for most of his career.
"Great arm … hard worker," Daniels said. "He really didn't bounce back from the injuries. It really affected him and led to some mechanical issues. We feel he is a big league pitcher. We would consider bringing him back at a different price. I am sure he'll talk with other clubs as well. We have not made him a proposal. We are still evaluating."
Fister, signed as a free agent last winter, began the season as the Rangers' No. 2 starter but was 1-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 starts. He went on the disabled list with a strained right knee on June 10 and did not pitch the rest of the season.
Moore, who was acquired from the Giants for two Minor League pitchers last December, was 3-8 with a 6.79 ERA in 12 starts and 27 relief appearances. The 6.79 ERA was the fifth highest in Rangers history among pitchers with at least 100 innings.
No qualifying offer for Beltre
As expected, the Rangers did not make a $17.9 million qualifying offer to free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. The Rangers are still interested in Beltre playing for them next year, but he has still not decided if he is going to retire.
Daniels said a qualifying offer would be too restrictive on Beltre as he would have one week to make a decision.
"It forces a timeline on him that he may not be ready for," Daniels said. "I am not sure where Adrian is in his decision-making process."
• The Rangers also assigned the following players outright to Triple-A Nashville, and all are expected to decline the outright assignment and elect free agency: pitchers Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Clayton Blackburn and Brandon Mann, catcher Carlos Perez and outfielder Ryan Rua.
• In addition, infielder Hanser Alberto has been claimed off waivers by the Yankees. Alberto spent parts of three seasons with the Rangers with a career .192 batting average. He missed all of 2017 because of right shoulder surgery and hit .185 in 13 games for the Rangers in 2018. He hit .330 in 101 games at Triple-A Round Rock and was named Player of the Year for the Express this past season.
• Pitchers Matt Bush, Nick Gardewine and Ronald Herrera have been activated off the 60-day disabled list and added to the 40-man roster. The Rangers now have 33 players on the 40-man roster.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.