5:08pm: The Rockies have designated Iannetta and selected Nunez, per a team announcement.
8:07am: The Rockies are preparing to make a change behind the dish, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Veteran catcher Chris Iannetta will be removed from the MLB roster — by what immediate mechanism isn’t yet clear — in favor of youngster Dom Nunez, whose contract will be selected.
The 36-year-old Iannetta has struggled with the bat since returning to the Rockies after six seasons away. He’s slashing .222/.311/.417 in 164 plate appearances this year, which translates to a meager 69 wRC+, and his strikeout rate has shot up to a career-worst 32.9%. Iannetta is also grading poorly in the pitch-framing department, an area where he has at times excelled.
It seems rather unlikely that a contender will see fit to claim Iannetta, who is owed the remainder of his $4MM salary along with a $750K buyout on a 2020 club option. (That option includes a vesting provision that is well out of reach and therefore not a factor.) That said, the veteran backstop is sure to draw interest from clubs in need of depth. It’s conceivable he could sign right onto a big-league roster if there’s a club that prefers him to its existing reserve catcher. Otherwise, he’ll likely be looking at minor-league deals.
Iannetta had already yielded the bulk of the action behind the dish to Tony Wolters, who’ll presumably continue to function as a regular. Now, the reserve job will go to Nunez, a former sixth-rounder. Nunez has found another offensive gear this season at Triple-A. Through 257 plate appearances, the 24-year-old is slashing .244/.362/.559 with a career-high 17 home runs. Even in the offensively charged PCL, that’s good for a 114 wRC+.