Chris Iannetta Rumors

Angels Open To Extensions With Street, Iannetta, Richards

The Angels are planning to discuss an extension with closer Huston Street in Spring Training and are also open to extensions with catcher Chris Iannetta and budding ace Garrett Richards, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The Halos, in fact, have already approached Street about the possibility, Gonzalez adds.

An extension with Street has been a known possibility for some time, as GM Jerry Dipoto told Gonzalez back in November that the two sides would talk during Spring Training. However, interest in extending Iannetta had not surfaced publicly prior to this point.

Interestingly, Street will represent himself in any contract negotiations, the reliever himself told Gonzalez in that same November piece by Gonzalez. A former client of Hendricks Sports, Street earned $7MM in both 2013 and 2014, and he’ll earn the same amount in 2015.

Street’s strikeout rate rebounded from a career-low 7.3 K/9 in 2013 back up to a more typical 8.7 K/9 in 2014, and he enjoyed his second sub-2.00 ERA campaign of the past three seasons. Although his ERA has fluctuated significantly over the past four seasons, his efforts have netted a 2.49 ERA in 213 1/3 innings with 8.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. ERA estimator SIERA has pegged Street as a sub-3.00 ERA reliever in five of the past six seasons, with the lone exception being the aforementioned 2013 season in which his strikeout rate dipped.

As for Iannetta, it makes sense to see the Halos interested in retaining him, given the fact that the soon-to-be 32-year-old is slated to be one of the top backstops available on next year’s open market, alongside Matt Wieters and Alex Avila. Iannetta offers not only respectable pop from behind the dish (.148 ISO with the Angels) but also has posted gaudy OBP numbers for much of his career thanks to a lifetime 14.2 percent walk rate. He does leave something to be desired in terms of pitch framing and is a bit below average in terms of career caught-stealing rate, but he’s a consistently valuable option behind the dish.

Richards and the Angels have to hammer out his arbitration salary — he filed for a $3.8MM salary, while the team countered at $2.4MM, as can be seen in our Arbitration Tracker — and talks are said to be progressing slowly, per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link). DiGiovanna adds that to this point, there’s been no discussion of a multi-year pact with Richards’ representatives at Relativity Baseball, and Gonzalez did caution that such negotiations might not even begin until after Opening Day.

However, as MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows, Relativity has been amenable to extensions for young starters in the past, as they negotiated long-term deals for Chris Archer, Julio Teheran, Madison Bumgarner and Jon Lester prior to those players reaching three years of big league service. Of course, Richards is a Super Two player and already eligible for arbitration, so he figures to be a more expensive commodity than the aforementioned names, who signed prior to arbitration.

Uncertainty surrounding Richards’ health as he recovers from knee surgery may be a factor in potentially delaying talks until the season begins, though Gonzalez reports that the right-hander is running on 75 percent of his body weight and should progress to 100 percent next week. He’s expected to be ready to begin throwing off a mound around the time the club begins its workouts in Spring Training. GM Jerry Dipoto wouldn’t comment on extension talks with Richards (or any other player), but he expressed confidence that the Angels would avoid an arbitration hearing with Richards, Matt Joyce and David Freese, Gonzalez writes.


Heyman On Trumbo, Ellsbury, Davis, Santana

Mark Trumbo is the Angels' most wanted player via trade, but the Halos are very reluctant to trade him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. "He fits us," said someone connected to the Angels. Meanwhile, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos and Chris Iannetta also are getting a fair number of trade inquiries, and they could move one of them.  Here's more of Heyman's latest..

  • One club with interest in Jacoby Ellsbury says that agent Scott Boras has set Carl Crawford's $142MM contract as a benchmark in discussions, Heyman writes.  One rival GM who isn't in on Ellsbury argued that Crawford was better and more durable at the time of his deal.
  • The Astros, Orioles, Rays, Brewers and Rockies all have checked in on Mets first baseman Ike Davis, despite his awful 2013 campaign, according to Heyman. In the case of Milwaukee, however, they may prefer re-signing Corey Hart instead.
  • Heyman suggests that the Marlins and Cubs could discuss a swap of top prospects and officials from both sides agree that they could have something to discuss.  The Cubs have high-end position prospects such as Kris Bryant (who may be untouchable), Javier Baez, and Albert Almora, while Miami has a stockpile of strong young arms.
  • We learned last week that Ervin Santana's asking price was $100MM and today Heyman hears that agents Bean Stringfellow, Joe White, and Jay Alou are seeking a five-year, $112MM pact.  The agents are going around with a book of arguments to support their case, including some comparisons to Dodgers star pitcher Zack Greinke.
  • The A's have joined the fray for free agent Nelson Cruz, but the small-market club could run into problems when it comes to dollars and years, Heyman writes.  Oakland has been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder after declining to pick up the option on Chris Young, but Cruz would be a much bigger splash than anyone anticipated.

Blue Jays Interested In Iannetta, Conger

Catcher is known to be a priority for the Blue Jays this offseason, and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports that the team is interested in Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger of the Angels. According to Elliott, the Blue Jays have already begun their efforts to acquire one of Anaheim's backstops.

As MLBTR's Mark Polishuk noted in analyzing the Blue Jays' upcoming offseason, the team is set at most offensive positions with the exception of catcher and second base. Mark noted that while incumbent J.P. Arencibia may not be non-tendered, his days as the team's starter are likely over. Toronto's desire to acquire one of the Angels' catchers and their interest in Washington's Wilson Ramos seem to support that line of thinking.

Iannetta, who turns 31 next April, might at first appear to be similar to Arencibia given his low batting averages and escalating strikeout rate (25.1 percent in 2013). However, Iannetta has always been adept at drawing a walk. In fact, he drew nearly as many walks in 399 plate appearances in 2013 (68) as Arencibia has in his entire career (74). Overall, Iannetta batted .225/.358/.372 for the Halos in the first season of a three-year, $15.5MM extension. He'll earn $4.975MM in 2014 and $5.525MM in 2015. In each of those seasons, his contract calls for an additional $100K bonus for starting 90 games at catcher and $125K when he reaches each of 100, 110, 115, 120 and 125 starts behind the dish.

The switch-hitting Conger batted .249/.310/.403 in 2013. He'll turn just 26 years old in January and won't be eligible for arbitration until next offseason. Originally selected by the Angels with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Conger has never gotten a full season's worth of at-bats with the Halos despite a robust .298/.371/.470 slash line in 854 career plate appearances at Triple-A.

As we saw last offseason, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has no problem dealing young talent to fill holes on his big league roster. Though the Blue Jays' farm system was depleted after acquiring R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson in trades, the team still has plenty of minor league pitchers that would pique the Angels' interest. According to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, the Blue Jays' top six prospects are all pitchers, though a top prospect along the lines of Aaron Sanchez would seem far too steep a price for either of the catchers in question.

If the Blue Jays really want to get aggressive, they could look to structure a deal that would land one of Iannetta or Conger as well as second baseman Howie Kendrick, who is known to be available. While that scenario is purely my speculation, such a trade would address both of the major holes highlighted in Polishuk's outlook. The Blue Jays own two of the first 11 picks in next year's draft, so they would have ample opportunity to add high-end talent to their farm system following another aggressive winter on the trade market.



Angels Extend Chris Iannetta

The Angels have agreed to sign catcher Chris Iannetta to a three-year extension, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports (Twitter links). The contract is worth $15.5MM, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The deal keeps Iannetta off of the free agent market for the foreseeable future and provides the Angels with certainty behind the plate.

Iannetta's previous contract included a $5MM club option for 2013. He had the right to void the option as a result of the 2011 trade that sent him to Anaheim. Now it's academic, as his new deal covers the 2013-15 seasons. Octagon represents the 29-year-old.

Iannetta missed most of May, June and July to undergo wrist surgery. When healthy he appeared in 79 games, hitting nine home runs and posting a .240/.332/.398 batting line in 253 plate appearances. He prevented 26% of stolen base attempts, a rate that's slightly better than average.

This offseason's class of free agent catchers still includes the likes of Russell Martin, Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski. MLBTR's Extension Tracker offers a look back at some recent extensions for other catchers.


Angels Notes: Santana, Wilson, Iannetta, Napoli

Despite adding Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson last winter and enjoying a legendary rookie season from Mike Trout, the Angels will miss the playoffs for the third straight year.  Here are a few notes from Anaheim as the Halos are already looking ahead to offseason business…

  • Ervin Santana is prepared for the possibility of the Angels declining his 2013 option, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.  "It would be tough to not come back here because I've known my teammates for a long time, and we have a good relationship," Santana said. "At the same time, it might be time to move on and try different things…If that happens, it happens. I'm not worried about it."  The Angels are reportedly planning to decline their club options on Santana ($13MM) and Dan Haren ($15.5MM) in order to free up resources for re-signing Zack Greinke.
  • Wilson said his struggles in the second half of the season were caused by bone spurs in his elbow, reports Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.  The southpaw said he will undergo minor surgery to repair the problem and doesn't anticipate any issues, noting that he had a similar operation in 2008.
  • Both Chris Iannetta and GM Jerry Dipoto tell MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link) that they're interested in Iannetta being an Angel in 2013.  Iannetta's $5MM option for 2013 became a mutual option once the catcher was traded from Colorado to Los Angeles last November.  The Halos can buy out Iannetta's option for $250K.
  • Also from Dipoto (via Gonzalez on Twitter), the Angels will be bringing back their entire coaching staff next season.
  • The Vernon Wells trade has been made all the more disappointing by the fact that Mike Napoli has obliterated Angels' pitching since being dealt, writes Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan. Napoli has 12 homers and a whopping .396/.500/.829 slash line in 134 career plate appearances against his former club.

Angels Notes: Aybar, Dipoto, Haren, Santana

Earlier this evening we asked MLBTR readers if they thought the Angels made the right move in signing Erick Aybar to a new four-year, $35MM extension.  As of right now, just over half of you are in favor of the move.  Here's more on the fallout from the deal and other Halos notes..

  • With the Aybar deal completed, the Angels will have $121MM committed to ten players for the 2013 season if the options for Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and Chris Iannetta are exercised, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Meanwhile, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com tweets that GM Jerry Dipoto doesn't sound like he's focused on taking care of the three club options just yet.  Haren's option is for $15.5MM with a $3.5MM buyout, Santana's is $13MM with a $1MM buyout, and Iannetta's is worth $5MM with a meager $250K buyout.
  • Dipoto says that the amount of money committed to players in the coming years puts added pressure on the scouting and player development system to come through with in-house talent, DiGiovanna tweets.

AL West Notes: Iannetta, Kawasaki, Chavez, Rangers

Here's the latest from the AL West…

  • The Angels are considering a contract extension for the newly-acquired Chris Iannetta, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link).  Iannetta is signed through 2012 and the Halos have a $5MM club option for 2013 that Iannetta can now void due to being traded before the start of the 2013 season.
  • Also from Renck, the Rockies tried to acquire Angels right-hander John Hellweg in the Iannetta trade.  Hellweg, 23, has a 3.83 ERA, an 11.4 K/9 rate and 7.6 BB/9 in four minor league seasons.  He spent last season pitching for the Halos' Class A+ affiliate.
  • Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki wants to play in the Major Leagues, but only for the Mariners, reports MLB.com's Matt Weber.  Kawasaki, 30, is a free agent so he can sign without a posting fee and he said he's willing to sign a minor league deal and play a different position if necessary.
  • MLB.com's Greg Johns has more details on Kawasaki, who has a career .294 average but just hit .267/.310/.327 last season with Fukuoka.  Johns says the Mariners have scouted Kawasaki in Japan so he is "at least on the Mariners' radar."
  • The Athletics aren't one of the teams interested in Eric Chavez, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).  "He wouldn't be a fit for them and vice versa," Slusser writes.
  • In a mailbag piece, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan looks at the obstacles preventing the Rangers from making a move for Prince Fielder and Matt Garza.  Sullivan also notes that it's only a matter of time before Ron Washington gets another contract extension from the club.
  • The Mariners' deep minor league system seems to give them an advantage under the new collective bargaining agreement, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.

Angels Acquire Iannetta From Rockies For Chatwood

The Angels announced that they obtained catcher Chris Iannetta from the Rockies for starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood. In a related move, the Rockies are close to signing Ramon Hernandez to a two-year, $6.5MM contract. 

The trade provides the Angels with additional offense behind the plate and rounds out the team's offense with the kind of high-OBP hitter Dipoto expressed interest in earlier in the offseason. Iannetta posted a .238/.370/.414 line in 2011 and given his career line of .235/.357/.430 the Angels are likely expecting similar production in 2012. 

Non-tender candidate Jeff Mathis is probably expendable now, whether that means the Angels trade him before the December deadline to tender arbitration eligible players contracts or cut him loose.

Chatwood, 21, posted a 4.75 ERA with 4.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 47% ground ball rate in 142 innings as a rookie for the Angels this past season. The 2008 second round pick entered the season as the 76th ranked prospect in MLB, according to Baseball America. He has a 3.40 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in parts of four minor league seasons.

The deal is Dipoto's first since being named the Angels' GM about a month ago. It's worth noting that he made the move with Dan O'Dowd, who was Dipoto's GM at the end of his playing career in Colorado. Dipoto made other significant trades as Arizona's interim GM in the summer of 2010.


Rockies Close To Signing Hernandez, Trading Iannetta

The Rockies are close to signing Ramon Hernandez to a two-year deal and trading Chris Iannetta to the Angels, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Tyler Chatwood should be going from the Angels to the Rockies in the deal, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). Teams are now examining medicals. 

The Rockies' deal with Hernandez will be worth $6.5MM over two years, Rosenthal tweets. Though Hernandez is a Type A free agent, the Rockies won't surrender a draft pick to sign him, since he's a modified free agent under baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The Reds will obtain a compensatory pick for losing Hernandez, however.

The move should provide the Angels with additional offense behind the plate and round out the team's offense with the kind of high-OBP hitter Dipoto expressed interest in earlier in the offseason. Iannetta posted a .238/.370/.414 line in 2011 and given his career line of .235/.357/.430 the Angels are likely expecting similar production in 2012. Non-tender candidate Jeff Mathis is probably expendable now, whether that means the Angels trade him before Friday's deadline to tender arbitration eligilbe players contracts or cut him loose.

Assuming the deal goes through, it will be Dipoto's first trade as the Angels' GM. It's worth noting that he's making the move with Dan O'Dowd, who was Dipoto's GM at the end of his playing career in Colorado. Dipoto made other significant trades as Arizona's interim GM in the summer of 2010.


Angels, Rockies Have Talked About Chris Iannetta

The Angels have been aggressively looking for a catcher according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com (Twitter links), and Troy Renck of The Denver Post reports that they've spoken to the Rockies about Chris Iannetta. Colorado asked about the availability of pitcher Tyler Chatwood.

Just yesterday we heard that the Rockies are interested in free agent backstop Ramon Hernandez, and Renck says (on Twitter) that they'd want him signed before going forward with any Iannetta trade. The Angels are also said to have interest in Ryan Hanigan of the Reds. The 21-year-old Chatwood pitched to a 4.74 ERA with nearly as many walks (71) as strikeouts (74) in 142 IP this past season.