When the Rays sent Matt Garza to the Cubs this off-season, most of the attention was focused on the acquisitions of Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee. Those two players are now considered among the best prospects in the Rays’ already deep system.
But Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune says the Rays are “very excited” about catching prospect Robinson Chirinos, and that he could push Kelly Shoppach and join John Jaso as part of the Rays catching platoon.
That seems like a big jump for a player that only became a catcher in 2008 and still has only caught 170 games in his career. He is also short on experience with just 15 games above double-A. Considering how patient the Rays typically are with prospects, it would seem that we wouldn’t see Chirinos at the Trop until at least July.
But there are a couple of factors working in Chirinos’ favor: 1) Dude can hit. He is an on-base machine that had more walks in 2010 than strikeouts; and 2) He is a lot cheaper ($414 thousand) than Shoppach ($3 million).
Some of this may be contingent on the Rays finding a trade partner to take Shoppach, but maybe the idea isn’t so crazy after all.