Yankees’ Robinson Chirinos is back to full health after wrist fracture; could he force his way into the team’s plans?

The New York Yankees plan was to enter the season with Gary Sanchez as the starting catcher and Kyle Higashioka fighting for the backup position with veteran backstop Robinson Chirinos. But as the first month winds down, the situation right now is completely different to what the team had drawn.

Chirinos got injured in spring training, and Higashioka has earned, according to Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone, more playing time after an excellent showing in the early going, both offensively and defensively.

Higgy is, in addition to providing his customary good defense to the Yankees, hitting .276/.364/.759 with four home runs and a 212 wRC+. Sanchez, meanwhile, is at .190/.329/.310 wit a couple of dingers and a 91 wRC+.

However, Chirinos may re-appear in the picture. According to Yankees manager Aaron Boone (link to NJ Advance Media article here), the veteran “is definitely a guy that obviously gives us really quality depth right now.”

NJ Advance Media speculates that the Yankees may decide to shop Sanchez and go with Higashioka and Chirinos in their depth chart.

Chirinos is 100% recovered from his broken wrist, an injury he suffered in spring training. It took him the better part of the last six weeks, but he is already active and playing in the Yankees’ alternate training site.

The article clarifies that it is not a given that the Yankee shop Sanchez, but it is a possibility given he has been relegated to a timeshare with Higashioka and hasn’t been successful since 2019.

The Yankees like Chirinos

Boone certainly likes Chirinos. “He was a great teammate in spring training,” the skipper said this week. “I thought he really integrated himself into our room and conversations. The camaraderie that he developed with our catchers and with our pitchers I thought was really good.

“We know he’s a guy with obviously all kinds of experience that’s been a really good catcher in this league for a long time.”

The 36-year-old Chirinos has it .231 over his nine-year MLB tenure.

New York Yankees: 7 Yankee player injury updates

zack britton, yankees

Since the beginning of spring training, the New York Yankees have been blessed with no major injuries to keep players out for the whole season. Although that is good news compared to the last two seasons, the Yankees have not been unscathed. Here are the most recent updates on the Yankee injured players.

Clarke Schmidt:

Schmidt vying for a place in the starting rotation, was hit early in spring training with bad news on that front. He was the first Yankee to suffer an injury in spring training. Schmidt suffered a common extensor strain. No matter how common he will miss significant time. Aaron Boone said that he is making satisfactory progress over the weekend but is still at least a week away from starting to throw again. Once he starts that, a better prediction can be made when he will pitch against live batters.

Zack Britton:

There have been quite a few minor injuries to players this spring training, but nothing compared to the last two seasons. The most devastating blow to the New York Yankees was when Zack Britton developed soreness in his elbow after a bullpen session. He had an MRI, and it was determined that surgery would be necessary to remove a bone chip from this throwing elbow.

This is particularly devasting due to the loss of Tommy Kahnle to the Dodgers. The Yankee did acquire Darren O’Day to ease the loss of Kahnle, but it made Britton’s role in the bullpen even more important as he would be the key setup man for Aroldis Chapman, even closing some games. Although it is unclear, the surgery is expected to occur today in New York by team surgeon Dr. Christopher Ahmad. He will be shut down for a month to six weeks and will have to build back up, making his return to the team sometime in late May or June.

Luis Severino:

Severino pitched in only three games in 2019 ( ERA 1.50) before needing Tommy John surgery; he lost the rest of the season and all of 2020. Now rehabbing, he is expected to rejoin the team in June or July. The recent reports on his progress are encouraging. Over the weekend, Severino, who has been throwing off the flat, took his first pitches off the mound. Bullpen coach Harkey said that Severino has been “working his tail off” to get back to form. Harkey believes he will be 100% upon his return.

Michael Beltre:

Beltre left Friday’s game against Pittsburgh with a hamstring injury, Marly Rivera of ESPN.com reported. The severity of the injury is not known as he consults with team doctors. Beltre posted a .637 OPS in the minors in 2019. So far this season, he had a hit in 11 plate appearances hoping to make the team. Rehab time for hamstring injuries is hard to predict. He could be back next week, or his spring training could be over; it sometimes takes a couple of months to recover fully according to the injury’s severity.

Robinson Chirinos:

With the loss of backup catcher Erik Kratz to retirement, the Yankees needed another catcher. They solved that with the signing of veteran catcher Robinson Chirinos. He has been playing and catching well, but now all his plans are on hold due to getting hit by a pitch last Wednesday. He is consulting with specialists to determine if he will need surgery. If he does, he will be out for some time.

Miguel Andujar:

In May of 2019, Andujar had season-ending surgery on his shoulder for the budding Yankee star. The Yankees needed a replacement at the hot corner, and they brought up Gio Urshela to fill in, a move that would prove unfortunate for Miguel. Urshela was so good he became the Yankees’ permanent third baseman. Last season he fought his way back even though the Yankees had no place for him, and that continued this spring training as he tried to gain a spot in the lineup. All of that is in question with an odd wrist and hand soreness that has become more intense in spring training. Now he is enlisting the services of a hand specialist. With this type of injury, there is no way to tell how long he will be away from the team.

Aaron Boone:

Over the offseason and particularly at the beginning of spring training, New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone felt punk, just not right. At the start of spring training, Boone noticed bouts of being tired and labored breathing. He consulted with doctors, and it was determined that his heart was beating too slowly and would require a pacemaker to correct the deficiency. In his second week with the pacemaker, the good news is that he back with the team and is feeling great, better than in years.

Although not injured, I have to mention that the New York Yankees have to be encouraged that both Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon seem very healthy and are performing as advertised. The Yankees took a big risk, hiring Kluber and trading for Taillon; both had not pitched for over a year due to injury and surgery.

Yankees: Robinson Chirinos’ quest for a roster spot ends with a wrist fracture

For a team like the New York Yankees, having two or more players competing for at-bats, innings, or even a roster spot is huge, because competition will bring the best out of the parties involved and will end up benefiting everyone involved.

However, it’s disappointing when competition ends because of an injury. That is precisely what happened to catcher Robinson Chirinos, who was going toe to toe with Kyle Higashioka for a spot on the Yankees’ bench.

However, Chirinos, who the Yankees brought this year thanks to his leadership and playoffs experience, will now be sidelined for weeks after he was diagnosed with a wrist fracture.

He was hit by a pitch in the Yankees’ Wednesday win

The experienced backstop was hit by a Blake Cederlind pitch on the Yankees’ 6-5 spring training win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Thursday was a day of undergoing –rays and CT scans at BayCare Outpatient Imaging in Tampa, Fla. For Chirinos. Per MLB.com, Drs. Daniel Murphy and Christopher Ahmad reviewed the images and confirmed that the wrist was indeed fractured.

The Yankees are talking to hand specialists to determine the next steps for Chirinos.

“It’s been awesome having Robinson in here,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s been a great teammate; he’s really influenced the catching room. He’s been a lot of fun for me to be around. Just a really good guy. I’m especially hurting for him today, just knowing how much he’s put in to be a part of this team.”

At 36 years old, Chirinos still has the drive to go to a spring training camp and compete for a spot, which the Yankees certainly appreciate. Splitting time with the New York Mets and the Texas Rangers, he hit .162 with a homer and seven RBI in 26 games.

New York Yankees: Robinson Chirinos on Cole, Sanchez, and more

Will the New York Mets pursue Robinson Chirinos in free agency?

The New York Yankees have a new catcher in town, Robinson Chirinos. With the hiring, the Yankees have addressed having only two catchers to start the 2021 season. The retirement caused the void at the end of the last season by catcher Erik Kratz. Kratz was the backup catcher that caught Deivi Garcia’s Major League debut. If either Gary Sanchez or Kyle Higashioka were to be injured, the Yankees would have no backup catcher. To resolve that, they signed veteran catcher Robinson Chirinos.

The 20-year veteran catcher adds a new and interesting wrinkle to the Yankee catching situation: he was a personal catcher for Yankee ace Gerrit Cole when the two were with the Houston Astros. In a surprising move by Yankee manager Aaron Boone, he has announced that Kyle Higashioka will not be Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher in 2021. He said in spring training Cole would pitch to Sanchez and Higashioka.

The very nice day, Cole, in an interview, started with a mention of his former Astros teammate  Robinson Chirinos. “Let’s not forget the third catcher that we have in Robinson,” Cole said. The bottom line for the Yankees is that they have picked up an adequate catcher to fill in. How big a role he ends up playing, only the season will tell. However, Gerrit Cole pitched yesterday in the first live batting practice; he pitched to Gary Sanchez.

I fully understand playing around with other catchers in spring training,  but I find it perplexing why Boone would remove Kyle Higashioka as Cole’s personal catcher in the regular season. The simple fact was that Cole was excellent when the game was called by “Higgy,” and not so much when throwing the ball to Sanchez. So much so that Higashioka became Cole’s personal catcher as the season progressed and in the postseason.

When being caught by Gary Sanchez, Cole had an ERA of 3.91 over eight starts last season, and Cole seemed to struggle in those starts. After switching over to Kyle Higashioka, he struggled less. Higashioka caught Cole in seven starts, including the postseason — Cole finished with a 1.79 ERA. Although Cole had a good season with a record of 7-3 in the short season, his combined ERA was 2.84. 3.91 or 1.79, which would you choose? It’s always been my belief that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. But obviously, manager Boone has other ideas.

So now, with Cole having no particular catcher, newly acquired Robinson Chirinos enters the picture. Chirinos was Cole’s personal catcher for 16 games. In those 16 starts two years ago, Cole had a 2.46 ERA. In a recent interview, Chirinos had this to say:“ In 2019, we were able to be on the same page,’’ Chirinos said. “Gerrit is a tough guy to catch. He likes to talk. It was a challenge.” So it’s ERA 3.91 with Sanchez, 2.46 with Chirinos, and 1.79 with Higashioka; why would you fool with success?

Robinson David Chirinos Gonzalez is 36 years old and was born in Punto Fijo, Venezuela. He signed with the Chicago Cubs as a non drafted free agent in 2000. He is a 20 year veteran of the game. He made his Major League debut with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. He has also caught for the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and the New York Mets before coming to the New York Yankees.

Although a catching journeyman, Chirinos is not an upgrade from Sanchez as he is not a good hitter, he has a career batting average of .231, and last year between two teams, just .162, just a few batted balls better than Gary Sanchez. Chirinos also lets runners steal bases at will. He is a good defender and calls a good game. Chirinos will start the season at Scranton Wilkes/Barre and will likely only be used if Sanchez or Higashioka gets injured. Could Boone’s plan be to use Sanchez to rebuild his confidence, and if he fails, use a tandem of Higashioka and Chirinos. Only time will tell, but it will be an interesting storyline to follow.

Robinson Chirinos was only given a one-year minor league contract, so it didn’t cost the Yankees anything if it is an experiment. But Chirinos doesn’t see himself playing in the minors. Talking to the media, Chirinos commented on his place with the New York Yankees.

“That’s not where I have my mind right now,’’ Chirinos said. “I know those guys are really good and have been here a long time. I came in this spring to show I’m healthy, let [the Yankees] choose and make a decision.” He also mentioned Gary Sanchez. “He’s working hard,’’ Chirinos said. “That’s the only thing you ask as a teammate. Hopefully he turns around and leaves the bad years in the past. He’s a huge key for this team.”

 

 

 

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Robinson Chirinos, is he a catch?

Will the New York Mets pursue Robinson Chirinos in free agency?

The New York Yankees have addressed the situation of having only two catchers to start the 2021 season. The retirement caused the void at the end of the last season by catcher Erik Kratz. Kratz was the backup catcher that caught Deivi Garcia’s Major League debut. If either Gary Sanchez or Kyle Higashioka were to be injured, the Yankees would have no backup catcher. To resolve that, they signed veteran catcher Robinson Chirinos.

Yankee fans know little about Chirinos, so today, I am introducing Robinson, his career, and his journey to the New York Yankees. Robinson David Chirinos Gonzalez is 36 years old and was born in Punto Fijo, Venezuela. He signed with the Chicago Cubs as a non drafted free agent in 2000. He is a 20 year veteran of the game. He made his Major League debut with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. He has also caught for the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and the New York Mets before coming to the New York Yankees.

In his first year in the majors, he hit .218/.283/.309 and only had a caught stealing record of 9%. After a concussion, he did not play in 2012. On April 8, 2013, he was traded to the Texas Rangers. With the Rangers, he was the backup catcher for A. J. Pierzynski, but only played in 13 games. But in 2014, he was the starting catcher for the Rangers; he played a career-high 93games that season, hitting .239/.290/.415, but he made 13 errors, the third-most in the American League.

In 2015 he again started for the Rangers. He batted .232/.325/.438. He came back for the ALDS against the Toronto Blue Jays and hit 3-for-11 (.273) and one home run in 3 games played in a series loss. Chirinos continued to catch for the Rangers through 2018 with similar results. On June 13, 2018, Chirinos was struck at home plate by Matt Kemp. Robinson felt the collision was intentional and started a bench-clearing brawl.   Both players were ejected from the game.

In 2018 he batted .222/.338/.419. Chirinos allowed 53 stolen bases, fourth-most for a catcher in the AL, as he caught 6 runners for a caught-stealing percentage of 10%. At the end of the season, the Rangers declined his $4.5 million option. On December 6, 2018, Chirinos signed a one-year contract with the Houston Astros. On September 1, 2019, Chirinos caught Justin Verlander’s third career no-hitter. In 2019 he batted .238/.347/.443.

After the season, he started the year with his second stint with the Rangers, but he was traded to the New York Mets in August. For the two teams in 2020, he combined for the worst batting average of his career, hitting only .162 just above Gary Sanchez’s worst season.  Now he is a non-roster catcher for the New York Yankees. After reading this, you realize that Chirinos is a pretty lousy hitter, as demonstrated by his record. There is no reason to believe he will be any better this season if used. He will only be used if Sanchez or Higashioka is injured. He can call a good game, but outside of that, he is a pretty average catcher. He does have a connection to Gerrit Cole as he was his personal catcher with the Astros.

In a surprising move by Yankee manager Aaron Boone, he has announced that Kyle Higashioka will not be Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher in 2021. He said in spring training Cole would pitch to Sanchez and Higashioka. The very nice day, Cole, in an interview, started with a mention of his former Astros teammate  Robinson Chirinos. “Let’s not forget the third catcher that we have in Robinson,” Cole said. The bottom line for the Yankees is that they have picked up an adequate catcher to fill in. How big a role he ends up playing, only the season will tell. The Yankees solved a problem without spending any money.

The photo accompanying this profile is of Chirinos with Gerrit Cole when playing together with the Houston Astros. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees: Six non-roster invites who can make an impact in 2021

New York Yankees, Adam Warren

On Wednesday, the New York Yankees announced that they signed 20 players to minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training. Six of the 20 have significant MLB experience and could make an impact for the Yankees in 2021.

Kyle Barraclough

Barraclough, a 30-year-old RHP, has the potential to become a middle-reliever with the Yankees. In five MLB seasons, he has an ERA of 3.00 or less in three of them. Over his career, Barraclough has a 3.53 ERA with a 1.359 WHIP in just over 250 innings of action.

Jay Bruce

Bruce, in his prime, was known as one of the most prolific power-hitters in all of baseball. He had his fair share of struggles last season, but at 33-years-old, Bruce could still have a few good years left in the tank. Bruce struggles in the field, but has totaled over 300 home runs in his 13-year career with three all-star nominations.

Jhoulys Chacin

Chacin, 33, has been a starter for seven teams over 13 seasons. He most recently pitched for the Braves in 2020, where he made two appearances. Chacin has a 4.04 ERA in 257 games with a 1.332 WHIP and a 4.22 FIP. In addition to starting, Chacin can be used in long-relief or low-leverage bullpen situations.

Robinson Chirinos

Chirinos could potentially become the Yankees’ back-up catcher if he were to beat out Kyle Higashioka this spring. He has just a .231 career average but is more of a defensive catcher. Chirinos spent the 2019 season in Houston, where he worked well with Gerrit Cole. He’s thrown out 24% of runners attempting to steal over his career and has a 5.8 dWAR.

Derek Dietrich

Dietrich has the potential to become one of the Yankees’ utilitymen in 2021. A left-handed power-bat who can play both infield and outfield, Dietrich has a career .245 average with a 107 OPS+. His OBP has been greater than .325 in each of his last seven seasons and he’s known to frequently get hit by pitches. Dietrich’s only draw-backs are his defensiveive struggles and his lack of speed.

Adam Warren

Warren will be joining the Yankees for the fourth team, re-signing with the team who drafted him. His career ERA sits at 3.53, but has pitched significantly better in New York with a 3.18 ERA in pinstripes. Warren’s career ERA+ sits at 117 with a 1.231 career WHIP in nearly 500 innings. The 33-year-old righty has the potential to find himself in middle-innings once again for the Yankees.

New York Yankees: Pitchers and catchers set up house, Aaron Boone and more

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

For the New York Yankees, today is the day that pitchers and catchers are supposed to arrive at the George M. Steinbrenner Training facility in Tampa, Florida. Some have already arrived and set up house in the area around the Stadium. It marks the first day of baseball in a still infected coronavirus environment. This will be a season like no other, but far from the bizarre season that fans saw last year. Many normal baseball rules will return to 2019 while still dealing with health protocols.

Forget all the rules and that stuff, the major change this season is its length. Last season fans saw only 60 games, this year is planned to be different. Fans and players will see 162 games, almost three times as many games. Although fans and players alike will be happy to see and play that many games, it presents bigger challenges than most realize. The fact is you don’t go from 60 to 162 games seamlessly.

Last year you had spring training that was cut off early, then a two-month gap before the second spring training (summer camp). That was followed by a regular-season of just 60 games. Forget the pitchers that only pitched one inning or even no innings, even pitchers who got ten starts last season are going to be expected to start 30 games. Folks it just isn’t going to happen for most. This will be a season of being careful with everyone, rest, days off, in order to keep players someone fresh for a postseason run. It will be a challenge.

Aaron Boone to address fans today

Team manager Aaron Boone just a day before the pitchers and catchers have their first workout, and five days before all the players report, will address fans and the media today. It’s difficult to know exactly what he will have to say. You can be sure it will be positive about the upcoming season, but he will also address some of the challenges ahead.

He will undoubtedly speak to the challenges ahead for the pitching rotation and how to keep pitchers fresh by limited innings while adjusting to the strain of a 162 games season. It will be a bigger challenge for the Yankees because only Gerrit Cole pitched only 91 innings last season, that’s about a third of what he will be expected to pitch this season. Boone hopes he can hold up as he is one of the most durable pitchers in the game. As far as Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, and Domingo German are concerned between the three of them they only pitched in a single inning last year. Boone will have to be really careful with them while getting games pitched. Luckily for Boone, the Yankees do have many arms to fill in including a return of Luis Severino mid-season.

He will likely spend some time discussing the bullpen that will also have a far different look than last season. He also isn’t going to want to burn them out before the postseason. With Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino gone from the group. Fans will likely see Adam Warren and Nestor Cortes jr. in the mix with Luis Cessa and Johnathan Loaisiga in relief early. That will be followed by Chad Green, Daren O’Day, and Justin Wilson setting up for Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman. Also, different this season is don’t expect Boone to automatically go to Chapman to close games.

He most certainly will talk about the lineup and the hopes for bounce-back seasons from Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, and others. He will probably address the hope of fewer injuries this season. He may speak about the powerhouse of Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, and Giancarlo Stanton who came on strong in the postseason for the New York Yankees. He might also address how Robinson Chirinos will augment the catching staff. EmpireSportsMedia.com will fully cover the address.

Will Boone be the 2022 Yankee manager?

The quick answer is yes! However, there are questions to his leadership that will undoubtedly be discussed before signing him on for another contract. This is the last season of his four-year contract with the New York Yankees. Boone has stood up to the challenges of unprecedented injures bringing the Yankees into the postseason every year of his tenure. The problem is that his management has failed each year to get into the World Series.

In 2018, his first year as management he beat the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card but then only won one game against the Boston Red Sox losing in the ALDS. In 2019 he did a bit better taking the team to the ALCS but again lost, this time to the Houston Astros. In 2020 he lost the AL East but advanced to the Wild Card with the Cleveland Indians who he made quick work of, sweeping them two games. Then in the ALDS he again fell short losing to the AL East winners, Tampa Bay Rays.

The question for the Yankees will be are they satisfied with the New York Yankees reaching the postseason, but exiting early without a long-awaited 28th World Championship. They will debate if the reason for their losses were because of the pitchers and hitters, the injuries, or was it his lack of leadership that led up to those losses.

 

 

 

 

Yankees sign a catcher to compete with Sanchez, Higashioka

Robinson Chirinos, New York Yankees

If you are familiar with the New York Yankees catching situation, you are also likely familiar with Gary Sanchez’s stats from 2020. The Yankees actually offered him a slight raise this upcoming season, but the 28-year-old catcher only has one opportunity left to prove he can be a long-term solution at the position. He will earn $6.35 million for the 2021 campaign, coming off a season where he struck out 36% of his at-bats and hit just .147.

The Yankees are confident he can bounce back after a tumultuous year, but his regression has been occurring for quite some time, and returning to his 2017 form might be a lost cause. Nonetheless, the Yankees didn’t have an exorbitant amount of cash to play with this off-season, so signing him to a new deal seem to be a monetary move. The Yankees still have Kyle Higashioka as an option, as he overcame Sanchez for a majority of starting reps in the postseason last year. He hit .250 with four homers and 10 RBIs over 48 plate-appearances.

The New York Yankees aren’t done making moves yet:

Despite having two catchers competing for the starting spot, general manager Brian Cashman felt the need to add another on a minor league contract. The Yankees recently went out and signed Robinson Chirinos, who featured with the New York Mets last year and signed a minor-league deal with the Bombers over the weekend. At 36 years old, Chirinos played for the Houston Astros in 2019, where he featured with Gerrit Cole significantly.

It seems as if Cole has had his hands full this off-season, helping the Yankees pick new players, notably Jameson Taillon. Last year with the Mets, he hit .162 and one homer, recording a negative WAR for the first time in six years. He’s not an offensive weapon but rather a defensive maestro who could end up being Cole’s personal catcher given any injuries to Higashioka or deficiencies.

This is a solid cost-efficient move to add defensive depth to the catcher position, one that is still a liability as we head towards spring training on Wednesday.

New York Yankees News: Yankees finally sign a new catcher, is “Higgy’s” job in jeopardy?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was busy yesterday; as I reported late last night, the Yankees signed a bullpen arm in Justin Wilson. I have been writing all offseason that at some point, the Yankees are going to have to address the fact that they only have two catchers, which they can’t live with. I learned during the night, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal, that they have finally addressed that situation signing another former New York Met in catcher Robinson Chirinos.

If the Yankees were to start the season with only two catchers and Gary Sanchez was injured, which history tells us is not out of the question, that would leave only Kyle Higashioka. “Higgy” has a good injury history, but if he were hit in the head by a ball, or the like the Yankees, then would have to use a position player to back him up, then bring up a not ready for a prime catcher from the minor leagues. The Yankees clearly needed another Major League catcher to prevent that situation.

Earlier in the offseason, there was even a question if Gary Sanchez would be the starting catcher after having a horrible season last year on both sides of the plate, or if Kyle Higashioka would be. There was also a question if Sanchez would be traded with the Yankees going into free agency to find a new catcher. That was all answered when the New York Yankee front office tendered Sanchez and gave him a small raise in pay. Since then, Cashman has made it clear that they have faith in Sanchez and that he would be the Yankees starting catcher in 2021.

The singing of Chirinos is an insurance policy for the Yankees. If things go as you might expect, Chirinos, who was signed to a minor league contract, will start the season at Scranton Wilkes/Barre. Meanwhile, Sanchez and Higasioka will fight for playing time at the Stadium. As I stated before, Sanchez was painful to watch last season. He hit only .147 and wasn’t great behind the plate either. As the season progressed, Higashioka became Gerrit Cole’s everyday catcher. “Higgy” played and caught really well last year, so good that as the season was coming to a close, he caught more often while Sanchez was benched. In the postseason, he took over being the everyday catcher. Sanchez only caught in two postseason games.

Now with the signing of Chirinos, a new wrinkle has appeared in the Yankee catching saga. If Higashioka doesn’t perform well in spring training, will Chirinos emerge as the backup catcher for Sanchez? Here is why that could happen. In his nine-year career, Chirinos has caught for the Tampa Bay Rays, the Texas Rangers, and last year with the New York Mets. But the wrinkle appears in the fact that he caught for the Houston Astros during the 2019 season when he became Gerrit Coles’s personal catcher. Therein lies the challenge for Higashioka. Cole will not have two unique catchers; it will probably end up being who shines in spring training.

Here is the record with these two catchers catching for Gerrit Cole: Over 68 ²/₃ innings with Chirinos as the catcher, Cole pitched to a 1.57 ERA with 114 strikeouts and 11 walks. Last season including the postseason Cole’s ERA with Higashioka behind the plate was 1.32, as he had allowed only five earned runs with an outrageous 47 strikeouts and only five walks over 34 innings.

Higashioka in 2020 hit .250 with four home runs in 48 plate appearances. Chirinos with the Mets hit only .162 with one homer in 72 at-bats. Both players are good defenders at the backstop. On the face of those stats, it appears that the backup catchers’ job will be Kyle Higashioka’s to lose. It will be another interesting New York Yankees’ storyline to watch as we approach opening day on April 1.

 

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Catcher Robinson Chirinos

The New York Mets received minimal production from the catcher position all season, and bringing in Robinson Chirinos at the trade deadline did nothing to change that. At 36-years old, the veteran catcher did hit 100 points better with the Mets.

Chirinos struggled mightily as a member of the Texas Rangers. He went 5-for-42 with a .119 batting average in 14 games and was a very questionable acquisition by Brodie Van Wagenen. The Mets had Tomas Nido healthy and ready to return from the COVID injured list, but the Mets opted to go outside the organization for another catcher.

Time in Queens

During his month with the Mets, he received consistent playing time and found some consistency with the bat. Chirinos had seven hits in 32 tries and hit his only home run of the season. His defense behind the plate was anything but consistent, with four wild pitches and failing to throw out a runner in five attempts.

Chirinos hitting struggles likely came from half of his batted balls being on the ground and only an 84.5 average exit velocity. He also only had one ball hit on the barrel all season and showed a much longer swing than he had in the past. The pitch framing also continued to hamper his game as he had a -2 runs extra strikes.

At this point, Chirinos is just a platoon catcher who can do damage against lefties (.259 AVG, .444 SLG). He is heading into his age-37 season and only hit .162 on the season with poor defense. Chirinos has an option year for the 2021 season. The $1 million buy out to decline it seems like pettiness for the Wilpons to leave Steve Cohen to spend money on a player he does not want. There is no future for him with the Mets and likely only receives minor league offers in the offseason.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 20 (20), Only one season over .250 in his career.

Power: 20 (30), Career .431 slugging.

Run: 20 (20), Might be slower than Wilson Ramos (5.01 average home to first time).

Arm: 35 (30), -2 stolen base runs saved in 2020.

Field: 25 (20), -5 defensive runs saved in 2020.

Overall: 20 (20), Hard to believe there is anything left for Chirinos in 2021.