Chris Iannetta Rumors
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
- 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
Links for Tuesday...
- Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro said a lefty reliever and another starter are still on his wish list, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post provides the details of Chris Iannetta's contract extension. The backstop can void the $5MM club option for 2013 if he is traded anytime before then.
- Braves' GM Frank Wren said he's looking for just "one more small piece" to fill out his club's offensive needs, tweets MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Bowman notes that the Braves need a primary pinch hitter.
- Adrian Beltre will take his physical on Thursday, tweeted Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports.
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post provides some thoughts on the Mets' deal with Jason Bay. He notes that the team's scouts "contend Bay is a better defender than (Matt) Holliday," despite what the metrics and people outside the organization say.
- The Giants designated defensively-skilled shortstop Brian Bocock for assignment to make room for Juan Uribe, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- ESPN's Keith Law sees "very little downside" for the Red Sox with the Adrian Beltre deal. He notes that Boston's defense should be terrific this year. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs says Beltre is "in the conversation of the best defensive third baseman of all time." WEEI's Rob Bradford says the Red Sox considered signing Beltre after the '04 season, and even discussed trying him at shortstop. Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe says Beltre is, at the least, an upgrade over Casey Kotchman.
- Ken Davidoff of Newsday feels the Mets could raise payroll in 2011, so they won't be limited because of Jason Bay's contract. By the way, Bradford has the transcript from Bay's press conference today.
- Maury Brown of The Biz of Baseball notes that the ten-day arbitration-filing period begins today. MLB.com's Doug Miller highlights the biggest eligible names.
- ESPN's Buster Olney suggests the Giants and Mets have been the slowest to adapt to advanced stats. He also notes that the proliferation of better defensive metrics could greatly benefit Carl Crawford as a free agent next offseason.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart talked to Astros GM Ed Wade, who said the trade market isn't great because of all the remaining free agents. Also, Wade is focused on one-year deals for arbitration-eligible players such as Michael Bourn, Wandy Rodriguez, and Hunter Pence.
- With Matt Holliday inching toward a large contact with the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at other $100MM deals given to outfielders.
- MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone has a summary of Peter Gammons' appearance on WFAN this morning.
- R.J. Anderson of DRays Bay interviewed Dan Feinstein, the Rays' Director of Baseball Operations.
MONDAY, 8:27pm: Harding is up with a story now that includes contract details. The Rockies will pay Olivo $2MM in 2010, and then either exercise a club option for $2.5MM in 2011, or go with a $500K buyout.
MONDAY, 4:56pm: MLB.com's Thomas Harding tweets that an agreement has been reached on a one-year deal with a 2011 option.
WEDNESDAY, 7:35pm: Troy Renck of the Denver Post says Olivo's contract is for one year with a club option. Renck also reports that the Rockies and Torrealba solved the issue of the $400K salary gap, but were instead held up by how a reported two-year, $6MM deal would be paid out over 2010 and 2011. Renck outlines the whole situation in a blog post and notes that the Mets and Giants are both interested in Torrealba.
5:25pm: Free-agent catcher Miguel Olivo and the Rockies "are attempting to work out final details" on a deal that would make Olivo the new backup in Colorado, reports Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports.
Olivo hit .249/.292/.490 in 416 plate appearances with Kansas City last season, leading the Royals with 23 home runs. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Olivo earn regular playing time in Colorado given that Iannetta ended up losing the starting job to Yorvit Torrealba down the stretch last season (though, to be fair, Iannetta posted an .804 OPS himself in 2009 and is the clear incumbent given his new contract).
Should Olivo sign with Colorado, it would close the door on any chance of Torrealba re-signing with his former club. Torrealba and the Rockies were in talks earlier this winter, but apparently couldn't close the gap on a $400K difference between Torrealba's demands and what the Rockies wanted to pay him.
FRIDAY, 10:08am: Renck says Iannetta's three-year deal is worth $8.3MM, with a $5MM club option for his first free agent year (2013).
THURSDAY, 3:23pm: Renck says Iannetta and the Rockies have agreed on a three-year deal worth more than $8MM. The deal includes an option for Iannetta's first free agent year, 2013. By comparison, Chris Snyder will earn $9.6MM for his arbitration years and Ryan Doumit will get $10.7MM.
1:00pm: The Rockies are close to signing catcher Chris Iannetta to a three-year deal, writes Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. The contract would buy out all three of Iannetta's arbitration years. Renck says the Rockies' initial offer was around $6.8MM. He also notes that the team's budget has room for both Iannetta and Yorvit Torrealba.
Iannetta, 27 in April, slumped slightly to .228/.344/.460 in 350 plate appearances this year (still very good for a catcher). He logged 763.6 innings behind the dish, throwing out 26% of attempted thieves.
The Rockies have made multiyear offers to arbitration-eligible players Huston Street, Clint Barmes, and Chris Iannetta, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. The details:
- The Street negotiations are early, but the Rockies made a three-year offer. That'd buy out one arbitration year and two free agent years.
- Renck believes Barmes was offered "two years, with a club option for free agency." That is, Barmes is already under team control for 2010 and 2011.
- Iannetta's offer would "carry him to at least free agency." Iannetta has three years of team control left. That the Rockies are entertaining a multiyear deal is a vote of confidence despite their pursuit of various veteran free agent backstops. The agents for Iannetta and Barmes have made counteroffers.
- Renck says the Rockies will turn to LaTroy Hawkins (again) if Rafael Betancourt turns down their offer of arbitration tonight. They're backing off on Justin Duchscherer.
- Utility man targets include Fernando Tatis, Bobby Crosby, Jamey Carroll, and Nick Green.