Chris Iannetta Rumors

Rockies To Designate Phillips For Assignment

The Rockies will designate Paul Phillips for assignment to make room for Chris Iannetta, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter). Phillips will report to Triple A if he isn't claimed. That's where Iannetta posted the .349/.447/.698 line that forced the Rockies to call him up.

Miguel Olivo has been hitting well, so the Rockies have barely used Phillips this season. The 33-year-old has picked up just 19 plate appearances this year, hitting .294/.368/.294. That's a decent approximation of how Phillips has hit in his seven-year major league career.


Cafardo On Ortiz, Iannetta, Atkins, Lowell

The key to the Rays' success so far has been their pitching staff, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, who praises Tampa Bay for playing so well despite a few slumping bats. Cafardo says that it may be hard for the club to add another piece or two before the trade deadline, since their budget is already maxed out. However, Cafardo acknowledges that with Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena facing free agency, the Rays may go all-out this year and stretch their budget a little in hopes of winning a championship. Here are some of Cafardo's other notes:

  • After this season, David Ortiz is probably "done in Boston unless he takes a massive pay cut." Ortiz might have trouble catching on anywhere next year, since there's virtually no market for one-dimensional players, and he may not be willing to accept a role similar to Jason Giambi's in Colorado.
  • If Ortiz and Victor Martinez continue to hit, the Red Sox are very unlikely to pursue Chris Iannetta.
  • One of the winter's most disappointing new additions has been Garrett Atkins, who is homerless and sports a .221/.261/.283 slash line in 119 plate appearances. The Orioles will have to consider releasing him if he doesn't turn things around.
  • The Rangers are looking for a starting pitcher and a productive right-handed bat. A Rangers official tells Cafardo that he'd still love to see Mike Lowell in Texas.
  • Cafardo thinks that if the Red Sox fall out of playoff contention and become sellers, they could replenish their farm system, acquiring multiple players for Martinez, Lowell, Ortiz, Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro, and Jeremy Hermida. I'm less optimistic than Cafardo about the caliber of talent the Sox could land for most of those guys.

Odds & Ends: Green, Oswalt, Mets, Gaudin, Werth

Links for Saturday….



Gammons On Martinez, Lowell, Iannetta

Peter Gammons made one of his regular appearances on WEEI's The Big Show on Friday afternoon to chat about the Red Sox.  Matt West has the full transcript, but here are a few of the more pertinent notes….

  • David Ortiz's improved play led to a question about Boston's future plans at the DH spot.  Gammons thinks that it will depend on if Victor Martinez is willing to re-sign "at a DH price or at a catcher’s price.  If its a catcher’s price I don’t think Victor will come back; if its a DH price I think they’ll bring him back."
  • Along those same lines, Gammons notes that "a DH price" is lower since league-wide, designated hitters are producing fairly average numbers: "The DH has been devalued, there are a lot of 35-, 36-year-olds who used to have the juice of life that don’t have it anymore."
  • Mike Lowell's agents have told Gammons that eight to ten teams are interested in their client, though Gammons doesn't necessarily believe them.  He thinks Lowell will end up being dealt from Boston at some point, though Gammons notes that two possible contenders for his services (the Mets and Rangers) are out of the running given the production of Ike Davis and Vladimir Guerrero, respectively. 
  • Gammons cites Tampa Bay as a potential destination for Lowell if the Sox end up releasing him.  Lowell would split time in a platoon at DH with Hank Blalock.
  • In regards to the rumors about Chris Iannetta, Gammons says the Red Sox attempted to acquire the catcher two years ago and "do really love him."  A deal could still happen later in the year though Gammons doesn't know if Boston could meet Colorado's trade needs.

Red Sox Monitoring Chris Iannetta

4:12pm: "Talks quickly faded" between the Sox and Rockies about Iannetta, says Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, because Colorado reportedly "wanted 'premium' talent" for the catcher.   

6:58am: The Red Sox are monitoring Chris Iannetta’s progress in case the Rockies make him available, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The catcher, who has been linked to the Red Sox for a while, is now in the minors.

Iannetta struggled through 34 plate appearances with the Rockies this year, hitting .133/.235/.333. The 27-year-old’s .362/.449/.741 Triple A line should be robust enough to convince any doubters that the last two years were not flukes: Iannetta can hit. The Red Sox have no doubt noticed that Iannetta has thrown out seven of 13 would-be base stealers.

Victor Martinez has struggled at the plate, but he has multi-hit games in three of his last four starts. Backup catcher Jason Varitek has been hitting surprisingly well in limited time. The tandem has limited opponents’ running games more effectively of late, nabbing nine of the last 21 baserunners to attempt to steal.

Iannetta, who is under contract through 2012, could be a long-term solution for the Red Sox. Their catchers are producing now, but both Martinez and Varitek hit free agency this winter.


Cafardo’s Latest: Padres, Lee, Iannetta, D’Backs

In this week's Baseball Notes column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe praises the Padres for building a roster suited to their home ballpark. Let's take a look at a few other highlights from Cafardo's piece….

  • The Padres aren't talking about Adrian Gonzalez at the moment, but according to a GM who has inquired about the slugger, a losing streak might be all it takes for San Diego to reconsider Gonzalez's availability.
  • According to multiple scouts, the Cubs would move Derrek Lee if they could. Lee is earning $13MM in the final year of his contract, and also has a no-trade clause.
  • Rhode Island native Chris Iannetta acknowledged he'd heard rumors that he could be traded to the Red Sox, but said: "They’re just rumors. I don’t put any stock in any of that until someone directly involved actually tells me."
  • The Diamondbacks may have to think about dealing someone like Kelly Johnson in an attempt to acquire help for their bullpen (7.42 ERA).
  • Some managerial speculation: Cafardo thinks that if Joe Torre doesn't return to the Dodgers, he'd fit with the Braves, Mets, or Blue Jays next year, and wonders if the Orioles might consider Davey Johnson to replace Dave Trembley.

The Rockies’ Approach To Trade Clauses

The Rockies, known for producing their own talent, have taken an interesting approach to the no-trade clause in several recent contracts.  Four examples:

  • Aaron Cook's annual salaries increase by $1MM if traded.  Many players have one-time assignment bonuses if traded, usually less than a million bucks.  Mark Buehrle is one pitcher with a better trade inhibitor than Cook – he gets an extra $1MM per year and an additional year at $15MM is added to his contract.
  • Brad Hawpe has a $10MM club option for 2011 with a $500K buyout, but he can void the option if traded.  A GM may like the idea of controlling Hawpe through 2011, but only the Rockies have the privilege.
  • Chris Iannetta can void his 2013 club option if he's traded before that season.  Iannetta is only controlled through '13 if he remains a Rockie, something to keep in mind when tossing around trade scenarios.
  • Troy Tulowitzki can void the remainder of his contract if he's traded.  His team-friendly deal won't be transferred to another club without his permission.  It's probably a moot point, as GM Dan O'Dowd told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times in March he hopes Tulo retires a Rockie.

The Market For Chris Iannetta

Most of the attention this week went to the signing of Ryan Howard, but the strangest move may have been Colorado's decision to send Chris Iannetta to the minor leagues.

Iannetta, 27, had a tremendous 2008, hitting .264/.390/.505 in 407 plate appearances. His numbers dipped somewhat in 2009, falling to .228/.344/.460, but that was still good for an OPS+ of 103, which put him in the upper echelon of hitting catchers. The Rockies clearly thought highly of his future as well, signing him to a three-year, $8.35MM contract this winter, with a 2013 club option.

So why would the team send Iannetta down on the strength of 34 poor plate appearances? And what's more, they did so in favor of Miguel Olivo, who is nearly five years older and has never had a season that approached Iannetta's 2008. It boggles the mind.

But with Iannetta out of favor in Colorado, it is hard to imagine the Rockies wanting to spend $8.35MM over the next three years on their Triple-A catcher. So which teams should have the most interest in Iannetta?

  • The Mets make a whole lot of sense as a landing spot. With Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco as the current major league catchers, the future is not planned for behind the plate with either one. Josh Thole is a promising catcher at Triple-A (though off to a slow start), but Iannetta projects to be the far better hitter than Thole, and hitting is Thole's ticket to the big leagues. And the Mets have the money to take a chance on Iannetta's long-term deal: even if he pans out as a backup, that salary doesn't kill them.
  • The Red Sox could be a strong contender for Iannetta's services. Obviously, Jason Varitek doesn't figure to be on the roster for the long-term, and the throwing skills of Victor Martinez (just 2 of 29 base stealers thrown out) makes his future at catcher tenuous at best. Martinez is also a free agent after the season. The Red Sox can also afford to take on his salary, even as a backup; Varitek, the backup this season, makes $3MM.  But as ESPN's Jayson Stark noted yesterday, the roster becomes a mess if the Sox add a catcher. 
  • The Royals have Wil Myers as their catcher of the future, but he's currently in Low A ball.  Iannetta could bridge the gap, even with Jason Kendall signed through next year.

Of course, plenty of other teams could benefit from the addition of Iannetta. Whoever ends up with Iannetta, the only one likely to regret it is the team trading him.


Cafardo On Suzuki, Cabrera, Griffey, Zambrano

In Nick Cafardo's latest piece for the Boston Globe, he takes an extended look at the Red Sox' early-season catching issues. He reiterates that if David Ortiz's struggles continue, the logical solution is to move Victor Martinez to DH and acquire a catcher. Cafardo names Kurt Suzuki as a player who would intrigue the Sox, since he can hit as well as play defense. Here are a few of Cafardo's other notes:

  • Other catchers to keep an eye on for the Sox include Chris Iannetta, Miguel Olivo, Chris Snyder, and even Twins prospect Wilson Ramos, though he'd be costly.
  • Cafardo praises the work Miguel Cabrera has put in to improve his image after last year's off-field problems. According to Cafardo, the Tigers "entertained trade proposals for him, but they wanted the farm in return."
  • Ken Griffey Jr. is off to a slow start this year, but the Mariners will give him time to work through it. Seattle may eventually have to limit his playing time if his bat doesn't get hot, but would never release him.
  • Cafardo is skeptical that the Cubs will be able to trade for a setup man and move Carlos Zambrano back into the rotation in the near future, suggesting the relief market is fairly thin.
  • One AL international scout's assessment of Cuban shortstops Jose Iglesias and Adeiny Hechavarria: "Iglesias is certainly the more polished player at this stage, but Hechavarria has more upside…. I’d say Iglesias could play defensively in the big leagues right now, where Hechavarria would need a year or two to refine his game a bit." While the Sox would like to give Iglesias more minor league experience, they could bring him up if something were to happen to Marco Scutaro or Dustin Pedroia.

Rockies Notes: Olivo, Batista

Troy Renck checks in with a couple of Rockies news items, including more contract details for the recently-signed Miguel Olivo:

  • Olivo is guaranteed $2.5MM in 2010, as opposed to the initial reports of $2MM. Olivo also has incentives for games started, which Renck believes kick in around the 105 games mark. Should Olivo hit this mark, he'll earn an extra $500K for the season, and his $2.5MM mutual option for 2011 will vest.
  • Olivo will compete with Chris Iannetta for playing time in 2010, and according to Olivo's agent, Martin Arburua, the Rockies' philosophy will be a very simple one: "Let the best man win."
  • In dealing with the Rockies, Arburua also discussed another of his clients, Miguel Batista. The soon-to-be 39-year-old posted a 4.04 ERA through 71.1 innings for Seattle last season, notching his highest K/9 rate (6.56) since 2003. However, he also posted an ugly 4.92 BB/9, and his FIP on the year checked in at 4.64