Rangers, catcher Chirinos avoid arbitration with $1.55M deal
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The Rangers exchanged salary arbitration figures with first baseman Mitch Moreland and closer Shawn Tolleson on Friday, while agreeing on a $1.55 million contract with top catcher Robinson Chirinos.
Texas also agreed to a one-year contract with right-handed reliever Tanner Scheppers for $900,000, leaving Moreland, Tolleson and lefty reliever Jake Diekman as the unsigned players eligible for an arbitration hearing in February.
Moreland wants to double his salary to $6 million after making $2.98 million last season. The Rangers are offering $4.7 million after he had career highs in batting average (.278) and RBIs (84) and tied his best with 23 home runs.
The 30-year-old Moreland became the primary defensive option at first base, allowing Texas to make high-priced slugger Prince Fielder the designated hitter.
Tolleson is due for a big raise regardless after becoming the closer in May for the AL West champions and finishing fifth in the AL with 35 saves in 37 chances, the best rate in club history. He's asking for $3.9 million with a club offer of $2.6 million. He made $519,700 last year, slightly above the major league minimum.
Chirinos was limited by a left shoulder strain over the final two months of his second full season with Texas. But he started three of five games in an AL Division Series loss to Toronto after getting a team-high 73 starts in the regular season.
The 31-year-old Chirinos hit .232 with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs in 78 games. He has a career average of .232 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs in 204 games.
Scheppers went 4-1 with a 5.63 ERA in 42 relief appearances in 2015.
A year earlier, he was converted to a starter in spring training and gave up seven runs in four innings of a 14-10 loss to Philadelphia in the opener. Scheppers made three more starts before going on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation, and was shut down for the season after four relief outings in June.
Scheppers battled right ankle and left knee injuries last season. His best year came as a reliever in 2013, when he was 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA in 76 appearances.
Diekman became one of the strongest lefty options out of the bullpen for AL Manager of the Year Jeff Banister after coming in the trade with Philadelphia featuring ace Cole Hamels.
After posting a 2.08 ERA in 21 2-3 innings in the regular season for Texas after the trade, Diekman appeared in four of the five games against the Blue Jays, allowing one run in six innings.
Diekman, who turns 29 next week, is seeking $1.55 million after making $535,500 last season. The Rangers are offering $975,000.