Chris Iannetta can draw a lot of walks. That's about the only good thing one can say about the veteran backstop's offensive profile, as he took another step back in his lone year as a Mariner. He managed to bring his batting average back above the Mendoza Line, but he swatted three fewer home runs, drove in 10 fewer runs and struck out just as much as he did in 2015. He also continued to falter against right-handed pitching (.185 batting average vs. RHP, .248 vs. LHP), which eventually led to his losing the starting job to Mike Zunino. Iannetta's decrease in power (career-low .119 ISO last season) and high propensity to strike out (24.6 percent strikeout rate) forced him to settle for a backup gig with the Diamondbacks, where he'll likely reside for all of 2017 unless Chris Herrmann struggles.
Iannetta agreed to a contract with the Diamondbacks on Friday, FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Terms and length of the contract were not immediately reported. He has proven to be a solid defensive catcher over the years, but has been of very little use in fantasy leagues, as he has hovered around the Mendoza Line in each of the past two seasons and offers little power and doesn't even get on base at a solid clip anymore. Look for him to share time with Chris Herrmann behind the dish this year.
Iannetta's agent met with the Blue Jays on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, Tacoma Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports. Iannetta's agent also represents Jose Bautista, and the conversation reportedly took place as part of a larger meeting that covered both free agents. Given the departures of Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole from the 2016 roster, Toronto's backup catching job remains up in the air. While Iannetta has graded out negatively in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) over the past several seasons and is not known as a strong pitch framer, the 33-year-old did manage to throw out 20 of 65 attempted base stealers in 2016 for a 31% success rate (league average rests around 25%). His offensive upside also offers potential, and his production at the plate would likely get a boost playing in Toronto's hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.
Iannetta had his 2017 option declined by the Mariners on Thursday. Iannetta batted just .210 in his age-33 season, and with Mike Zanino and Jesus Sucre providing more upside and youth, Seattle decided to part ways with him. The veteran backstop continued to display his excellent ability to take walks, but with his power dwindling, it'll be tough to land a starting gig in free agency.
Iannetta drove in two runs Thursday, giving him just three RBI in since the All-Star break as he's been relegated to backup duty to Mike Zunino. Thursday's appearance was just Iannetta's second in September. He only played 10 games in August. Zunino looks like he's turned himself around and will enter next season as the starter. Iannetta, who is on a one-year deal, likely will not be back. If he is, it will be in a backup role.
Iannetta has lost playing time to Mike Zunino lately, as Zunino has started 10 of the last 13 games behind the plate, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Iannetta is in a major slump, and defensive metrics show that he's slipping behind the plate as well. Zunino has always been considered the better defender, but the current contrast has been more stark than usual, while Zunino has also improved at the plate.