Robinson Chirinos
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Rangers decline option on Robinson Chirinos

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Amid a flurry of moves on Friday, the Rangers declined a $4.5 million club option on catcher Robinson Chirinos. According to comments from general manager Jon Daniels, the team hasn’t officially closed the door on a reunion with their starting backstop, but would prefer to explore alternatives to Chirinos (and 25-year-old backup catcher Jose Trevino) as more free agents become available over the offseason.

Chirinos, 34, rounded out his sixth campaign with the Rangers in 2018. Despite some defensive struggles, he made a compelling case for his return in 2019 after registering a career-high 18 home runs and 65 RBI while batting .222/.338/.419 through 426 plate appearances. Per MLB.com’s TR Sullivan, he was in line to receive a base salary of $2.375 million for the 2019 season, with incentives that brought the total price tag up to the $4.5 million mark.

The Rangers also declined contract options on left-handers Doug Fister and Martin Pérez and right-hander Matt Moore. Right-handers Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Clayton Blackburn, lefty Brandon Mann, catcher Carlos Pérez, and first baseman/outfielder Ryan Rua were all outrighted to Triple-A Nashville to clear space on the 40-man roster.

Phillies-Mets could get contentious tonight

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As the Mets were wrapping up a 9-0 shellacking of the Phillies on Tuesday night, reliever Jacob Rhame threw a pitch up and in to first baseman Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the ninth inning. The pitch sailed behind Hoskins’ back. The slugger wasn’t happy about the scare, understandably. Players began to trickle out of their respective dugouts, but a fracas was avoided.

Hoskins was skeptical that Rhame simply missed his spot. Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Hoskins said, “He didn’t miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I’ll let you decide. I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”

Teammate Bryce Harper said, “I don’t get it. I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”

Indeed, two Mets were hit by pitches on Monday night. José Álvarez hit Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning, which advanced a base runner. In the very next at-bat, Juan Nicasio hit Pete Alonso with a first-pitch fastball. It was obvious neither was intentional as the Phillies were only down two runs and hitting both batters advanced base runners and led to runs scoring. It is less obvious that Rhame’s pitch to Hoskins was unintentional, but he showed empathy in his post-game comments. Rhame said, “When you accidentally sail one, it’s probably pretty scary. I’d get [angry], too.”

Will Wednesday night’s series finale be contentious? Despite being “fairly upset,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “We do not retaliate, and we do not throw at anybody intentionally,” Jake Seiner of the Associated Press reports.

Mets manager Mickey Calloway didn’t give as straight an answer. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Calloway said, “I think at this point, you just go out there and beat people, and win. … For now, I don’t feel like anything has been intentional at us that has warranted anything from our side.” If that changes, however, Calloway said, “They’re going to have each other’s backs.”

Hopefully, neither side decides to take justice into their own hands. But, welcome to the NL East in 2019. The Mets lead the Phillies by one game, and the Braves and Nationals by 1.5 games. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out division fight all year long.