The Mariners announced today that they’ve exercised their $7MM option on outfielder Seth Smith and declined a $4.25MM option on catcher Chris Iannetta. FanRag’s Jon Heyman first tweeted that Smith’s option would be picked up, and SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that Iannetta’s would be declined.
Smith, who turned 34 at the end of September, proved to be a useful platoon bat for the Mariners, hitting .249/.342/.415 with 16 home runs and a healthy 11 percent walk rate on the season. To say that he was heavily shielded from facing left-handed pitching would be something of an understatement, as Smith received just 33 plate appearances against southpaws compared to 405 against righties. The reasoning behind the move isn’t hard to determine however; Smith has mashed at a .272/.355/.472 clip throughout his career when he holds the platoon advantage but has looked lost against left-handers, as evidenced by a career .202/.282/.312 slash against same-handed pitchers.
On the defensive side of the coin, Smith’s contributions to the team didn’t draw favorable reviews. Both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating pegged him as a poor left fielder and a roughly average right fielder. Smith has never been known for his glove, but this year’s poor marks in left field came in a fairly small sample, and he’s been largely adequate there over the bulk of his career per those same metrics.
As for Iannetta, the 33-year-old got off to a hot start with the Mariners in 2016 and looked to be working his way toward triggering a vesting option for the 2017 season based on his strong play through the season’s first two and a half months. As of June 16, Iannetta was batting a very respectable .247/.348/.412 through 198 trips to the plate. However, his production thereafter cratered, and as a result his playing time diminished. Iannetta received just 140 plate appearances from that point forth, in part due to the return of Mike Zunino but also due to the .160/.237/.216 slash line to which the veteran limped.
Iannetta was a well-above-average bat for the Rockies and Angels from 2008-14, but he’s now coming off a pair of dismal seasons at the plate that saw him bat a combined .199/.298/.332 in 655 plate appearances. Iannetta still possesses good discipline at the plate and a bit of pop from the right side of the dish, but he’ll probably have to entertain offers to be a backup catcher this winter after this 2015-16 run.