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Countdown to Arizona Diamondbacks Opening Day: D-20, Chris Iannetta

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He’ll be expected to be the offensive part of our catching department. For now, at least...

MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

We asked you to rank the 40-man roster along with the 16 non-roster invitees to spring training, and every day between now and the eve of Opening Day, we’ll have a profile of one of those Diamondbacks.

D minus 20: Chris Iannetta

  • Date of birth: April 8, 1973
  • Ht/Wt: 6’0”, 230 lbs
  • Position: Catcher
  • Status: 40-man roster
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • 2016 MLB numbers: 94 games, 338 PA, .210/.303/.329, 7 HR, 24 RBI
  • SnakePit Rating: 5.21 [pattern of votes below]

Iannetta is hardly a stranger to Chase Field, having played six seasons for the Colorado Rockies after they drafted him in the fourth round of the 2004 draft. He had some good seasons there, peaking in bWAR with a 3.2 win season in his final year of 2011. The Rockies then traded him to the Angels for Tyler Chatwood, and Iannetta signed a three-year, $15.5 million contract extension with Anaheim in October 2012. When that ran out, he got a one-year deal in Seattle for last year, but as in 2015, Iannetta’s bat seemed to have deserted him, managing an OPS+ of just 75 with the Mariners. He signed with Arizona in mid-January, getting a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.

It likely won’t be clear how catching gets split between Iannetta and Jeff Mathis until the season gets under way. Mathis earns more, but Iannetta has consistently played more over recent seasons. Iannetta’s numbers have been all over the place as far as pitch-framing goes: the metrics rated him highly in 2015, but well below average in 2016. One thing to note is Iannetta’s solid plate discipline: his career walk rate is 13.8%, compared to MLB average of 8.2%, and even as his BA cratered the past two seasons, the walks kept coming, at 12.9% and 11.2%. His 2015-16 BABIP was almost thirty points below career average too, despite a 23% line-drive rate, above his career figure.

Iannetta’s future may depend not only on his own performance, but when/if the team thinks Oscar Hernandez is ready to move to the majors. Both men have hit well in spring, and Iannetta is cheap enough by baseball standards, that he may be a place holder until Hernandez is deemed fit for duty. But, I guess if baseball doesn’t work out, he can always turn to his back-up plan, of running a vineyard.

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