Corporan opts for free agency; Chirinos No. 1 catcher

Corporan opts for free agency; Chirinos No. 1 catcher

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' catching depth was reduced on Monday when Carlos Corporan refused outright assignment and opted for free agency.

Texas still has Robinson Chirinos, Chris Gimenez and Bobby Wilson on the 40-man roster. All three are eligible for arbitration.

Catching could be an area that the Rangers look to upgrade in the offseason. It is also a position that is relatively weak all through the Major Leagues and the arrangement that helped win an American League West title in 2015 may be as good as the Rangers can put together for next season.

"We need to be careful not to covet something that may or may not be out there," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's tough a position in the industry to fill. At the same point, we'll look at make sure we're coming to camp with the best set up as we can."

Chirinos goes into the offseason as the Rangers' No. 1 catcher. He was that for the first four months and again in the postseason after playing most of the final two months of the season with a torn muscle in his left shoulder.

Chirinos batted .232 with 10 home runs, 34 RBIs, a .325 on-base percentage and a .438 slugging percentage. He also threw out 23.7 percent of attempted basestealers after leading the league at 36.2 percent in 2014.

Gimenez played in 36 games with the Rangers after being called up at the end of July and hit .255 with five home runs, 14 RBIs, a .330 on-base percentage and a .490 slugging percentage. He also threw out just one of 19 attempted basestealers, but he had shoulder "cleanup" surgery immediately after the season.

Gimenez, who turns 33 on Dec. 27, has never had a full season in the Majors, but the Rangers were 25-7 in his starts. He was also the personal catcher for starter Cole Hamels and emerged as a clubhouse leader down the stretch.

Wilson shared the catching duties with Gimenez in the final two months while Chirinos and Corporan were sidelined. Wilson hit .221 with one home run, 10 RBIs, a .291 on-base percentage and a .325 slugging percentage, although club officials also consider him the best defensively of the three.

The most interesting name on the list of potential free-agent catchers is Matt Wieters, a three-time All-Star with the Orioles who played in 75 games last season after being out from May 11, 2014 to June 5, 2015 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The other potential free agents include Alex Avila, who was an All-Star for the Tigers in 2011 and their starting catcher for five years before falling off in '15. Also eligible for free agency are veterans Chris Iannetta, Dioner Navarro, A.J. Pierzynski, Geovany Soto and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

On the trade front, the Brewers may try to trade Jonathan Lucroy, who was an All-Star in 2014 and is signed through next season with a club option for '17. But new general manager David Stearns said Lucroy is the type of player they may want to build around. Other potential trade possibilities include Wilson Ramos of the Nationals, Tyler Flowers of the White Sox, Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies, Christian Vazquez of the Red Sox and A.J. Ellis of the Dodgers.

The Rangers' own catching depth took a bigger hit on July 31 when top prospect Jorge Alfaro was included in the trade with the Phillies and Tomas Telis was sent to the Marlins for reliever Sam Dyson.

Triple-A Round Rock finished the season with Brett Nicholas and Patrick Cantwell sharing the catching duties. Nicholas is a converted first baseman with left-handed power who is still learning the position. Cantwell, a third-round pick in the 2012 Draft, is excellent defensively, but he hit just .178 this past season. The Rangers still have hopes for Kellin Deglan, a first-round pick in 2010 who has the defensive ability and left-handed power at the plate. But he has played in just 17 games at Double-A Frisco.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.