He’s back! That’s right, the Chicago Cubs signing catcher Robinson Chirinos is a reunion, and the image for the post is the proof!
First, the news: today the Cubs signed Chirinos to a big league deal, and he’s immediately joining the team for tonight’s game against the Phillies. Erstwhile back-up catcher Taylor Gushue has been designated for assignment to open up a spot. That makes Chirinos the Cubs’ SIXTH back-up catcher of the season, after Austin Romine, Tony Wolters, P.J. Higgins, Jose Lobaton, and Gushue.
Second, the reunion: yes, Chirinos came up a Cubs prospect – that picture is from 11 years ago – before he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Matt Garza deal (most famously together with Chris Archer, but shortstop Hak-Ju Lee was maybe considered the top prospect in the deal, Brandon Guyer was considered the number three guy, and Sam Fuld was a fun inclusion, too).
Third, the status: Chirinos, 37, made his bones in Texas as a long-time exceptional back-up for the Rangers, and was downright dominant for the Astros in 2019. That year and the year before he was more of a “starter,” but the wheels fell off in 2020, and this year he was raking (but striking out a ton) for the Yankees at Triple-A. There’s not necessarily a guarantee here that Chirinos will be the kind of quality back-up he’s been in the past – he’s 37, after all – but obviously he’s as good a bet as any guy the Cubs have had so far in their parade of back-ups.
Are the Cubs getting him in time for it to matter? The odds are certainly against it – and the back-up catcher matters only so much in any case – but it’ll be nice to see an excuse to give Willson Contreras a rest here and there, even if only to preserve his body for the second half (his performance this year matters for a lot of reasons, just sayin’).