Free agent catcher Chris Iannetta signed a one-year contract with the Diamondbacks, as confirmed by the team on Friday night. According to Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com, the deal is set at $1.5 million.
The 33-year-old backstop batted .210/.303/.329 with seven home runs and 24 RBI for the Mariners in 2016. He was even shakier on defense, seeing a significant regression in his pitch framing skills that left him ranked among the worst defensive catchers in the league during the 2016 season (via StatCorner).
The Diamondbacks acquired another veteran backstop in Jeff Mathis last month, signing the 33-year-old free agent to a more sizable two-year contract. While Iannetta’s defense has yet to stabilize, Mathis’ skills behind the plate placed him among the top 20 performers in 2016. Piecoro reports that the Diamondbacks have high hopes for Iannetta’s on-base and power potential, neither of which appear to have surfaced in recent years. With Iannetta and Mathis hovering around the Mendoza line, both catchers are expected to partner with the more offensively-talented Chris Herrmann behind the plate in 2017.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.