Jerry Dipoto continues to make moves to try to improve the Seattle Mariners. This time it comes in the form of a free-agent signing. The M’s signed Chris Iannetta to become their primary catcher in 2016.
Iannetta signed a one-year deal with the Mariners according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
ianetta gets $4.25M plus incentives. 1 year plus an option. #mariners
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 24, 2015
Coming off a season to forget, Iannetta is reunited with Dipoto. The two know each other very well after spending the last several seasons together in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization. He slashed .188/.293/.335 a season ago which is well below his career line of .231/.351/.405.
The major news is not the signing but that Dipoto is bringing Iannetta in to be the primary catcher over Mike Zunino. Zunino has struggled at the plate since he was called up in 2013. It has yet to be determined where Zunino will start 2016, but signs are pointing toward Triple-A.
The M’s don’t have many options in the organization outside of Zunino and Iannetta. Jesus Sucre caught a lot of games down the stretch in 2015 after Zunino was sent down to Triple-A. He could only manage a .152 average in 52 games. John Hicks who appeared in 17 games last season had just two hits in 32 at-bats. He was DFA’d to make room for Iannetta on the roster. Throughout the winter, look for Dipoto to continue to try to strengthen the catching corps for the M’s.
Although Iannetta struggled in 2015, Dipoto is expecting a bounce back year according to Seattle Times beat writer, Ryan Divish.
Dipoto references Iannetta’s low BAPIP and high walk rate as a reason for a possible bounce back season
— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) November 24, 2015
Dipoto loves guys that get on base and that is something that has been missing from the M’s lineup the past few seasons. Iannetta had an OBP of .373 in 2014 and .358 in 2013. If he can come close to those numbers in 2016, he will have been worth every penny. While he doesn’t have a ton of power, Iannetta has hit 10 or more home runs five times in his career. His career high is 18 from his days with the Colorado Rockies in 2008. I’d expect a max of 10 home runs for him in Safeco, but if he can get on-base that is all that matters. Another day, another move for the Mariners.