The Cubs announced they’ve signed catcher Robinson Chirinos to a one-year, major league contract. Fellow backstop Taylor Gushue has been designated for assignment to create space on the active and 40-man rosters.
Chirinos signed a minor league deal with the Yankees over the offseason. A Spring Training hit by pitch led to a right wrist fracture that required surgical repair, helping limit the 37-year-old to 45 plate appearances at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. New York, set behind the plate with a combination of Gary Sánchez and Kyle Higashioka, released Chirinos on Sunday.
It only took the veteran a day to land a big league opportunity elsewhere. He’ll immediately step in as Willson Contreras’s backup in Chicago, a role that has been in flux all season. In addition to Gushue, Tony Wolters, Austin Romine, José Lobatón and P.J. Higgins have all taken brief turns as the Cubs #2 catcher. Wolters struggled and was quickly designated for assignment, while each of Romine, Lobatón and Higgins has suffered some form of significant injury.
That turnover will lead to another opportunity for Chirinos. The MDR Sports Management client has seen action in parts of nine big league seasons, including every year from 2013-20. At his best, he was an above-average hitter with solid power from the right-handed batters box, serving as the primary catcher for the Rangers and Astros. Chirinos is coming off a disappointing 2020 campaign, but that only spanned 82 plate appearances and he’s not far removed from a strong .238/.347/.443 line with Houston in 2019. He’s returning to his original organization, having signed with the Cubs as an amateur from Venezuela back in 2000.
Chicago will have a week to trade Gushue or expose him to waivers. The Cubs selected the 27-year-old after Lobatón’s injury last week. He has since made his first two career major league appearances, going hitless in four trips to the plate. Signed to a minor league deal over the winter, the former Nationals prospect has hit a solid .272/.328/.440 with Triple-A Iowa this season.