Is Robinson Chrinos Threatening Kyle Higashioka’s Role?
by Derek McAdam
After signing Gerrit Cole last off-season, many rumors were linking Robinson Chirinos to the Yankees after catching for Cole while on Houston in 2019. The chemistry between the two was extremely powerful, as Cole finished second in Cy Young voting behind teammate Justin Verlander.
Ultimately, Chirinos would return to the Texas Rangers on a one-year contract and the Yankees would look to Kyle Higashioka taking over as full-time backup to Gary Sanchez.
In the present day, Chirinos signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees with an invite to Spring Training. Social media began to buzz, wondering if the Chirinos signing had anything to do with Cole.
Looking back at last season, it became consistent that when Cole was on the mound, Higashioka was behind the plate. There was a chemistry brewing between the two Southern California natives, who were both originally drafted in the 2008 MLB Draft by the Yankees. Ultimately, Cole declined to sign and enrolled at UCLA and Higashioka signed his contract with the Yankees.
Although Chirinos and Cole had a fabulous 2019 season in Houston, Chirinos was simply brought in as the third catcher who will probably not start at the Major league level unless an injury occurs to Gary Sanchez or Higashioka. The move gives the Yankees veteran depth in the Majors and valuable asset to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitchers.
There is a very high possibility that Cole had some influence on Chirinos’ signing and it now gives him two personal catchers, but Higashioka should not be heavily worried about his job being in jeopardy.
Higashioka has continued to improve for the Yankees behind and at the plate. Brian Cashman had enough faith in him to let Austin Romine walk last off-season, and so far it has not been a terrible decision.
The 30-year old catcher spent nearly a decade in the minors before making his Major league debut in 2017, with 2020 being his first full season with the Yankees. There may be no looking back to the minors for Higashioka any time soon.
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