The Orioles have agreed to a deal with catcher Robinson Chirinos that will pay the veteran $900K in guaranteed money, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports. Another $75K is available to Chirinos in incentives, and he’ll receive a $100K bonus if he is traded. ESPN’s Marly Rivera (Twitter link) was the first to report that Chirinos and the O’s were close to a deal.
Having already acquired Anthony Bemboom and Jacob Nottingham this winter, the Orioles were still known to be on the lookout for an established catcher who could handle a more regular share of playing time. Exactly how much playing time Chirinos will receive has yet to be determined, as it is widely expected that star prospect Adley Rutschman will be getting the bulk of work behind the plate in Baltimore this season, if perhaps not quite on Opening Day.
Given that the new collective bargaining agreement offers the promise of bonus draft picks to high finishers in Rookie Of The Year balloting, the O’s have some increased incentive to have Rutschman in the big leagues as soon as possible. Regardless, Chirinos should be in line for a fair amount of work before or after Rutschman is promoted, and the trade bonus also addresses the distinct possibility that the rebuilding Orioles will look to flip Chirinos before the deadline.
Other than a dismal performance during the shortened 2020 season, Chirinos has quietly been a very solid offensive performer for much of the last eight years, hitting .232/.327/.438 with 90 home runs over 2147 PA with the start of the 2014 season. Beyond just “good for a catcher,” this translates to a 102 OPS+ and 104 wRC+, making Chirinos a valuable member of the Rangers, Astros, and Cubs lineups, even if his relative struggles on defense limited his chances at being a true full-time starter.
Chirinos signed a minor league deal with the Yankees last offseason but suffered a fractured wrist during Spring Training, and eventually caught on with the Cubs in July after New York released him. Chirinos bounced back from his rough 2020 with a respectable .227/.324/.454 slash line and five home runs over his 112 PA with Chicago.