Mariners News: Mariners Sign Free Agent Catcher Chris Iannetta


The Mariners announced today that they have signed free agent catcher Chris Iannetta.  This signing adds depth and experience to the catching position for the Mariners.  Jerry Dipoto, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Mariners noted that the plan is for Iannetta to be the primary catcher.  The Mariners have made a corresponding move and designated John Hicks for assignment to open a spot on the Mariners 40 man roster for Iannetta.

“This move improves our depth at a critical position,” said Dipoto. “Chris provides us with a solid veteran presence behind the plate, as well as an experienced major league hitter with strong on-base skills who will lengthen our lineup.”

That statement clearly indicates that Jerry Dipoto recognizes the importance of the catching position.  This is an intentional move and is his top choice.  Jerry Dipoto is very familiar with the 32 year old, 6-foot, 230 pound catcher who’s spent the last four years with the Angels.   Jerry Dipoto traded for him when he was the GM of the Angels in 2012.

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Chris Iannetta had a dismal year offensively in 2015 with the Angels.  His slash line of .188/.293/.335 in 2015 is his worst offensive major league season in his 10 year major league career.  Not the best way to go into free agency.

This move has some fans wondering if this is really going to help the Mariners at all.  A personal friend of mine, Mike posted on social media, “So, the Mariners sent their struggling catcher back to the minors to work on his hitting. Today they signed a veteran catcher who hit a whopping .188 last year!”

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Well Mike, just last year the Mariners catching position hit a slash line of .159/.205/.259.  Just about anything is an improvement over that.  Chris did struggle at the plate last year.  However his career numbers are much better than what the Mariners have had there over the last couple of years.  His career slash line of  .231/.351/.405 over 10 years is more than formidable for a catcher.  Now, there’s no guarantee that he is going to hit that well.  But his other numbers, walks and strikeouts are pretty consistent with the other years.  And the Mariners believe he will regress to closer to his lifetime numbers and that he has had bad luck.

Jon Heyman of CBS reported the financial details of the deal.

Jerry Dipoto is making a lot of moves this offseason, but he has a plan and he’s going to see it through.  This doesn’t move Mike Zunino out of the picture at catcher.  It provides a mentor for him and someone to help him along.  Ryan Divish reported that Chris Iannetta said, “I look forward to being around him. I look forward to hopefully helping him. I see a lot of things that I went

Feb 28, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher catcher Chris Iannetta (17) poses for a photo during photo day at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

through as a younger player that he’s going through right now. And if I can help get to that next level, I’d love to be able to do that.”

To me, that sounds like a ringing endorsement of someone you want to have in your dugout and on your team in that clubhouse.