Emotions ran through Chirinos on Monday, in November
All through last season, Robinson Chirinos expected to be wearing a Texas Rangers uniform in 2019.
He said as much Monday in the visiting clubhouse at Globe Life Park, donning his Houston Astros gear. When he found out in late October that the Rangers would not be picking up his affordable club options, he couldn’t believe it.
That wasn’t the messaging he had received from general manager Jon Daniels.
But Chirinos moved on with a one-year contract worth $5.75 million with the team picked by many pundits to win the World Series. He has no ill will toward the Rangers, and he admitted that it was an emotional drive Monday to the ballpark from his home in Colleyville.
“Just driving here today was emotional,” Chirinos said. “I did it for six years, and knowing I was going to be on the other side wearing a different uni, it kind of it me.
“During spring training and the first four games in Tampa, I wasn’t thinking about playing the Rangers. Today it kind of hit me, but what can you do? They did a lot of good things for me, and I have nothing bad to say about those guys.”
The Rangers held a $2.375 million option on Chirinos that had nearly doubled after he hit multiple incentives. The Rangers almost traded Chirinos in August after he was claimed on trade waivers, according to a source, and shopped him again early in the off-season.
They had to pay a $1 million buyout to Chirinos, who said that he had assurances during that he was coming back.
“JD told me twice during last season they were going to pick up my option,” Chirinos said. “I was surprised, just hearing from JD, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. You’re going to be here next year.’ I know it was a baseball business decision, and I respect that. Things happen for a reason, and now I’m here.”
Daniels declined to go into any specifics about his conversations with Chirinos or agent Melvin Roman, but a club source said that Daniels typically does not make commitments on options until after a season.
At various points the Rangers expected to pick up the option, but they decided to make defense a priority over the offense that Chirinos is capable of bringing. The Rangers targeted Martin Maldonado and Jeff Mathis before giving Mathis a two-year, $8 million contract early in free agency.
Chirinos was not looking to stir up any controversy Monday as he met with reporters covering both teams, nor was Daniels.
“There’s a lot of appreciation for Robby’s work here over the years,” Daniels said. “I think the world of him as a person.”
Chirinos left the scrum at his locker for a pitchers meeting where he was planning to give as much information about Rangers hitters as he could. He still has many friends on his old team, but he wants to beat them all three games in this series.
Still, he wasn’t sure how emotional he would be until first pitch.
“Right now there’s a lot of emotion,” Chirinos said. “I’m excited for tonight. Before I came to the clubhouse today, I stopped on the other side. The guys over there, they are good people. I have nothing but good stuff to say about my ex-teammates.”