12:49PM: Iannetta explained his decision to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, saying that he told the Yankees in the offseason that he was going to retire if he wasn’t on the Major League roster. That stance didn’t change after Higashioka was injured.
“If I didn’t make the team out of spring, I was going to call it a career….That’s kind of what transpired when they took me off the roster and wanted me to go to Scranton,” Iannetta said. “I was like, no. I wasn’t about to hang on or sit around and wait for someone to get hurt or get called up again. I’ve never wished anyone to get hurt in my entire career, and I wasn’t about to start now.”
12:40PM: The Yankees placed catcher Chris Iannetta on their restricted list yesterday, a somewhat curious transaction that could now be a bit more clear. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link) that Iannetta “is believed to be retiring” after 14 seasons in the majors.
Originally a fourth-round pick for the Rockies in the 2004 draft, Iannetta spent eight seasons in total with Colorado, first from 2006-11 and then a return for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. In between those stints at Coors Field, Iannetta also spent four seasons with the Angels (after being dealt in a notable trade that sent Tyler Chatwood to Colorado), and one season apiece with the Mariners and Diamondbacks.
He inked a minor league deal with the Yankees last February and had his contract selected prior to their July opener, though Iannetta never officially appeared in the pinstripes before he was designated for assignment last week. Iannetta was then outrighted off New York’s 40-man roster but didn’t report to the club’s alternate training site, which George A. King III of the New York Post reports (via Twitter) was the reason for Iannetta’s placement on the restricted list.
A possible wrinkle to the story could be today’s news that Kyle Higashioka has been placed on the 10-day injured list with an oblique strain. Erik Kratz was called up to take Higashioka’s spot as Gary Sanchez’s backup, and with the Yankees now short on catching depth, one wonders if Iannetta might be persuaded to return if he has a clearer path to a Major League job.
If this is indeed it for the 37-year-old Iannetta, he’ll head into retirement with 1197 MLB games and 4253 plate appearances to his name, with 141 homers and a career .230/.345/.406 slash line. Iannetta’s 100 wRC+ makes him an exactly average run-creator over his 14 seasons, and his three best offensive seasons were somewhat unusually spaced out — a 129 wRC+ in 2008 over 407 plate appearances with the Rockies, a 125 wRC+ in 373 PA with the Angels in 2014, and then a 120 wRC+ over 316 PA with the D’Backs in 2017. Iannetta’s offensive production was largely fueled by an ability to reach base, highlighted by a .390 OBP during that big 2008 campaign.
Iannetta is the Rockies’ all-time leader in games caught, and as noted by Heyman, he is also a notable figure in the history of Rhode Island baseball. Of all big league players born in the Ocean State, Iannetta ranks seventh in games played, behind three Hall-of-Famers (Nap Lajoie, Gabby Hartnett, Hugh Duffy) and three other notables in Paul Konerko, Davey Lopes, and Bill Almon. MLB Trade Rumors congratulates Iannetta on a fine career, and we wish him the best in his post-playing days.