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Robinson Chirinos agrees to contract with Orioles to be future Adley backup

The Orioles have had no catchers on the 40-man roster all offseason, until now.

Chicago Cubs v Philadelphia Phillies
10-year veteran Robinson Chirinos looks mighty catchery.
Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

The Orioles 40-man roster is devoid of catchers no longer. The team struck on Saturday night to bring a veteran backup into the mix, with MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reporting that the O’s have an agreement with 37-year-old catcher Robinson Chirinos to join the club for a one-year contract.

Chirinos, a 10-year veteran of MLB, spent the 2021 season with the Cubs, playing 45 games and serving largely in a backup role in the second half of the season. He batted .227/.324/.454 over those games and is a perfectly league-average hitter over the entirety of his career. That’s more interesting than Pedro Severino was, though Chirinos has never controlled the running game well, throwing out just 24% of runners in his career and only 17% in the 2021 season. According to Baseball Reference, the pronunciation is chee-REE-nohs.

Unless he gets hurt between now and Opening Day, Chirinos figures to be a lock to make that roster one way or another. If the Orioles do the “keep Adley Rutschman in the minors for three weeks” routine to try to squeeze out an extra year of service time, Chirinos could be the regular catcher until Rutschman arrives. If they do the exciting thing and have Adley start on Opening Day, Chirinos is there to catch day games after night games, second games of doubleheaders, and ninth innings after someone pinch runs for Rutschman.

The signing of Chirinos combined with the pre-lockout agreement with starting pitcher Jordan Lyles being finalized means the Orioles have a full 40-man roster for the time being. Since there’s no Rule 5 draft this year due to the lockout delaying everything, there’s no opportunity cost to the O’s for having a full roster. If they sign someone else (LOL) then they can just remove someone at that time, and if they don’t, then they can make decisions at the end of spring training.

The Orioles had signed a couple of catchers to minor league contracts back in December. Anthony Bemboom, a 32-year-old who’s played 54 games over three MLB seasons, and Jacob Nottingham, a four-year MLB veteran at age 26, are also in the mix. Nottingham’s professional career has seen him traded for Scott Kazmir, for Khris Davis, and for cash.

It seems likely that if Rutschman isn’t on the Opening Day roster, one of these other guys will make it in addition to Chirinos. I find Nottingham more interesting if only because he’s younger, but there’s not much to get worked up about in this choice in any case. We can hope that Rutschman is on the MLB roster and the only question about Nottingham and Bemboom is which will get called up from Norfolk if Chirinos sprains his ankle and goes on the injured list.

For that contingent of Birdland that’s been getting spun up for no rational reason about the idea that the Orioles might try to sign Carlos Correa, you may find it interesting to note that Chirinos and Correa were teammates on the 2019 Astros.