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Rangers add Rupp on Minor League contract

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

OAKLAND -- The Rangers are not concerned about their current catching arrangement of Robinson Chirinos and Juan Centeno, manager Jeff Banister said.

Banister said the concern is what would happen if one of them went down to injury. That's why the Rangers signed veteran Cameron Rupp to a Minor League contract on Tuesday and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock.

OAKLAND -- The Rangers are not concerned about their current catching arrangement of Robinson Chirinos and Juan Centeno, manager Jeff Banister said.

Banister said the concern is what would happen if one of them went down to injury. That's why the Rangers signed veteran Cameron Rupp to a Minor League contract on Tuesday and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock.

"I've seen Cameron Rupp when I was in Pittsburgh," Banister said. "He is a big, strong catcher, an offensive guy, good arm, can catch. He has the skillset to be a big league catcher. He has been a big league catcher. It was an opportunity to add depth."

The Rangers had been discussing Rupp internally since the end of Spring Training, when it became apparent that he would not make the Phillies' roster. But they got a reminder about the need for depth Monday night when Chirinos was involved in a collision while tagging out Jonathan Lucroy at home plate. Chirinos was slightly shaken up on the inside of his right knee, but stayed in the game.

"I don't think our catching is an area of concern, but I don't think you can have enough quality catching," Banister said. "Chirinos is in good shape and we like Centeno, but adding Rupp to the mix adds another level of Major League catching. That's essential. We know on any given night, one of these guys can go down. We are not replacing quality players, we now have an option for a guy who has played at the Major League level."

Chirinos is coming off his best offensive season last year, hitting .255 in 263 at-bats with 17 home runs, 38 RBIs and a .506 slugging percentage. But he and Centeno entered Tuesday's game against the Athletics hitless in a combined 19 at-bats.

"I have only played four games," Chirinos said. "They could have been my best four games, they could have been my worst four games. It's too early to be thinking about that. It's how you finish, not how you start."

Rupp, 29, was released by the Phillies on March 30. He spent all or parts of the last five seasons with the Phillies. He has played in 296 games and has a career batting average of .234 with a .298 on-base percentage and a .407 slugging percentage.

He played in 88 games for the Phillies last season and hit .217 with 14 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .417 slugging percentage. His best season was 2016 when he played in 105 games and hit .252 with 16 home runs, 54 RBIs and a .447 slugging percentage.

Rupp is considered an average defender, but throws well, according to a big league scout. He has thrown out 31 percent of attempted basestealers in his career. He will make a prorated portion of a $1 million salary if he is promoted to the Major Leagues.

The Rangers have Brett Nicholas, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Carlos Garay as their catchers at Triple-A Round Rock. Nicholas is the only one with big league experience.

Rupp was a third-round pick by the Phillies in 2010 out of the University of Texas. He played high school baseball at Prestonwood Christian Academy of Plano, north of Dallas.

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.

Texas Rangers, Cameron Rupp