The Texas Rangers announced on Friday that they will not exercise the 2019 contract options on catcher Robinson Chirinos, right-hander Doug Fister, left-hander Matt Moore, and left-hander Martin Perez.
Chirinos ranks fourth in Rangers history in games caught (419) and he set career highs in games (113), home runs (18), and RBI (65) in 2018.
“We gave a lot of thought to that one,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “I had a chance to meet with Robinson this week before he left for Japan. We explained to him our decision. He had a 1-year option at $4.5 million. He’s certainly performed very well for us. I absolutely love the human being. Very good offensive catcher.
“We wanted to explore some things in the marketplace. We haven’t necessarily closed the door on Robbie by any stretch. It’s just the timing of it. We weren’t ready to commit. We wanted to explore potential alternatives behind the plate.”
Daniels said they are looking at the market for a starting catcher more so than going into the offseason with the idea that Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be the starter.
“We’re very high on Kiner but I’m not sure it’s fair to ask him to be ready for that at this point,” Daniels said.
Additionally, the Rangers assigned the following players outright to Triple-A Nashville, and all are expected to decline the outright assignment and elect free agency: Right-handers Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Clayton Blackburn, left-hander Brandon Mann, catcher Carlos Perez and outfielder Ryan Rua.
They also activated right-handers Matt Bush, Nick Gardewine and Ronald Herrera from the 60-day disabled list and sent infielder Hanser Alberto to the New York Yankees on a waiver claim. The Rangers will receive $20,000.
Alberto never materialized into the type of contributor the Rangers were hoping. The 26-year-old spent most of his time this season with Triple-A Round Rock.
Earlier on Friday, the Rangers acquired left-hander Drew Smyly and a player to be named later in a trade with the Cubs for a player to be named later. Smyly didn’t pitch for the Cubs last season as he continued to recover from Tommy John Surgery in June 2017. The 29-year-old has a career ERA of 3.74, with a 31-27 record in five seasons with Detroit and Tampa Bay.
Fister was on the disabled list from June 9 through the end of the season with a right knee strain.
Gardewine had three stints with the Rangers, with the final stint comprised strictly of a stay on the 60-day disabled list with a right forearm strain. Herrera was on the 60-day disabled list for the entire season, and underwent surgery on June 11 to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm.
Moore ranked among staff leaders in strikeouts (3rd, 86), innings (4th, 102.0), and games (5th, 39) in his lone season with the Rangers. Carlos Pérez had two stints with Texas after playing for the Atlanta Braves at the start of the campaign. Martin Pérez missed 2 1/2 months due to issues stemming from an offseason injury to his right (non-throwing) elbow.
“He really didn’t bounce back from the injury,” Daniels said of Pérez. “I think it really effected him, led to some mechanical issues. I think he’s a big league pitcher and we’d consider bringing him back at a different price point. We have not made him a proposal. We are evaluating that now.”
Friday’s transactions put the Rangers at 33 players on the club’s major league roster with free agency set to begin on Saturday.
The Rangers also announced the appointment of Matt Blood as Director of Player Development and that Paul Kruger has been promoted to Director of Minor League Operations.
Blood, 33, joins Texas from USA Baseball were he served the last three years as Director of the 18 and Under National Team Program. Before that, he spent seven years as an area scout for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kruger has spent nine years with the Rangers, the last three as Assistant Director of Player Development.