Rockies Want Tyler Chatwood For Chris Iannetta

By MJ Lloyd

Or so the rumor goes… KFFL is reporting(?) the Rockies asked the Angels for pitcher Tyler Chatwood in exchange for catcher Chris Iannetta. They don’t seem to link to their “source” so I’m just going to assume Troy Renck’s mom has been running her mouth again.

The Angels could use a catcher unless it turns out Jeff Mathis has just been forgetting to bring a bat with him to the plate all these years. The Rockies have never really given Iannetta the full time gig in Colorado and are openly shopping him. Seems like a natural fit. It also seems like a steep asking price after a cursory glance.

Iannetta, already 28-year-old(!), is a career .235/.357/.430 in 1,733 plate appearances. He’s in the second year of a 3-year, $8.35M deal that bought out his arbitration years. Iannetta absolutely mashed minor league pitching from the minute he got to Double-A in 2006. He hit .238/.370/.414 in 2011 over a career high 426 plate appearances. Or nearly double Mathis’ 2011 slash line (kidding, sorta). The only other season Iannetta played over 100 games was in 2008 when he put up a .264/.390/.505 line. I’ll take that every day from my catcher.

Chatwood, almost 22-years-old, came into the season as the Angels second best prospect behind Mike Trout according to Baseball America. Over 142.0 innings, Chatwood posted a 4.75 ERA and a 4.89 FIP (fielding independent pitching). His 4.90 xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching) and 5.62 tERA (true runs allowed) are much more worrisome. What the Angels saw of Chatwood in 2011 is what scouts had concerns about him ever reaching his potential. He lacked command on his best pitches and finished with a 4.50 BB/9 and an equally disappointing 4.69 K/9. Chatwood, a shade under 6-0, has been working in the low 90s with his two-seemer and has seen his K/9 fall to the 4.75 level since entering Double-A.

While still crazy young, I’m afraid we’ve already seen the Chatwood of the future. If his command issues aren’t corrected, it’s likely Chatwood spends his future in the bullpen. The reason the Angels shouldn’t make this deal are because he’s cheap and still has a high ceiling. Chatwood could turn this around in a year or two and be a front end starter. If the Angels were in win-now-mode, I would probably suggest making this deal. I don’t consider rostering the carcasses of Bobby Abreu, Vernon Wells and maybe even Torii Hunter a reason to go “all-in” this year.

Catcher is an obvious need and I’d love to give Iannetta a shot. I wouldn’t trade Chatwood for him but it’s closer than you might think.