12:16pm: The Yankees and Iannetta are in agreement on a minor league deal, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
11:50am: The Yankees and veteran catcher Chris Iannetta are close to finalizing a minor league contract WFAN’s Sweeny Murti reports (via Twitter). The 14-year MLB veteran would presumably be in Major League camp this spring to compete for a backup role. He’s represented by Octagon.
Iannetta, 36, spent the 2019 season with the Rockies organization but was cut loose in August after hitting .222/.311/.417 with six home runs through 164 plate appearances. Those numbers don’t look too bad for a backup catcher, but when accounting for Iannetta’s home park and the league-wide offensive explosion in 2019, Iannetta’s output wilts substantially (70 wRC+, 75 OPS+).
Earlier in his career, Iannetta was a starter with the Rockies and Angels, enjoying a lengthy run as a low-average, high-OBP backstop who drew plenty of walks and hit for power. As recently as 2017, he slashed .254/.354/.511 with 17 big flies in 89 games with the D-backs, but that’s been his only above-average offensive campaign of the past half decade.
Iannetta has improved his framing in recent years and has drawn overall positive marks with his glove in three of the past five seasons, but the 2019 campaign saw those framing numbers dip as he also struggled to control the running game (17 percent caught-stealing rate). Currently, Kyle Higashioka is the favorite to back up Gary Sanchez behind the plate in 2020, but Iannetta and fellow veteran Erik Kratz will be in Spring Training as non-roster invitees hoping to land a big league gig in the Bronx.