Major League sources also confirmed the Rangers are still engaged with free agent Nicholas Castellanos to potentially be their first baseman. As for the possibility of the Rangers trading for Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, things appear to have cooled off for now.
There was much to dissect while the Rangers were introducing Frazier and Chirinos during a press conference at their MLB Youth Academy in West Dallas on Wednesday.
Frazier will get $5 million guaranteed, with $3.5 million in 2020 and a $5.75 million club option for '21 with a $1.5 million buyout. Chirinos agreed to a $5.75 million contract for '20 plus a $6.5 million option for '21 with a $1 million buyout.
“Two outstanding veteran players who fit our roster well,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Right-handed power, tremendous makeup, both on board with everything [manager] Chris Woodward and the team is about. Really excited to welcome Robinson Chirinos back to the Rangers and welcome Todd Frazier to the team.”
Let's break down the transactions -- and potential transactions -- in three areas:
Frazier at third base
Daniels said Frazier was signed to be the Rangers' third baseman. Discussions with Frazier and agent Jeff Berry began in earnest after missing out on Anthony Rendon in mid-December.
The Rangers knew they needed a third baseman, but that was also when rumors began the Rockies might be willing to trade Arenado. The Rangers kept their options open with Frazier.
“One of our first conversations with [Berry] and directly with Todd was, ‘Depending on how things work out, are you open to play some first base if different things happen?'” Daniels said. “He was very amenable to playing first base.”
That does not appear to be necessary at this point. Arenado discussions appear dormant, at least for now.
“I really don’t expect anything to change that at this point,” Daniels said. “We are always going to explore options to make our club better, but there is nothing in the realm of possibility that is anywhere remotely close that would change that.”
Frazier said he was willing to do whatever the Rangers needed.
“I am a third baseman,” Frazier said. “But at the end of the day, if they want me to play first, I don’t mind. I am comfortable in both spots. We’ll just see who we get before Spring Training starts. I’ll be ready to play both positions. The Rangers expressed interest right away, and that stuff means to me a lot more as I get older. There is an opportunity there, we talked on and off for a month and found a way to get this done.”
Chirinos at catcher
Chirinos was with the Rangers from 2013-18 before they declined to pick up his option. In his place, they signed Jeff Mathis to a two-year deal because of his defensive assets and ability to work with pitchers.
Daniels admitted Wednesday not picking up Chirinos’ option was a mistake. He made a similar confession to Chirinos around the batting cage before a Rangers-Astros game last summer.
“I have talked in the past that Robby is an underrated player,” Daniels said. “I don’t know if I had the mindset [of] the grass is greener, didn’t appreciate what we had but…we looked to do something different last year. In some ways it played out well, Jeff developed a good relationship with some of our pitchers and some had great years. He gets a ton of credit for that. But we missed some of the things that Robby brought.”
Chirinos signed a one-year deal with the Astros and was their No. 1 catcher on a pennant-winning team. When he became a free agent, Chirinos was more than willing to come back to Arlington.
“I remember sitting with J.D. [Daniels] in the clubhouse when he told me they weren’t going to pick up my option,” Chirinos said. “I was sad. This was home for me. My family is here. I remember J.D. saying, 'Maybe we might come back and sign you,' but it never happened last year. I’m glad we were able to work out a deal and come back. This is an exciting time to be a Texas Ranger.”
The Rangers finished last season with Mathis and rookie Jose Trevino sharing the catching duties. With Mathis signed for one more year, Trevino may have to start the season at Triple-A.
“We’ll go into Spring Training and see how things play out,” Daniels said. “We signed Jeff for a reason last year, pushed him physically. It was more of a challenge than we anticipated. Jose stepped up and made some good strides. ... Most likely, it will be Robby and Jeff.”
Woodward liked the idea of acquiring Frazier and Chirinos because they are both right-handed hitters with power in a lineup heavy with left-handed sluggers. Castellanos could add even more balance to the lineup if the Rangers are able to get a deal done with his agent Scott Boras. Daniels does not discuss specific free agent targets.
“If it’s the right fit for the team, we’ll stay active and engaged,” Daniels said. “We like what we’ve been able to do, but we can always get better. Continuing to build depth will be a focus. Whether we add somebody above that level remains to be seen.”
Daniels said right now the Rangers plan to go with Ronald Guzman, a left-handed hitter, at first base. He hit .219 last season with 10 home runs, 36 RBIs and a .414 slugging percentage in 87 games.
“As we sit today, Ronald Guzman -- at least against right-handed pitching -- has the inside lane on the job,” Daniels said. “Really good defensively. He has had a good winter. There are still areas of his game that can improve. Whether it is more of a platoon partner with Ronald or something else, we are going to continue to look at everything.”