LA Angels Hot Stove Series: Chris Iannetta

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 28: Catcher Chris Iannetta
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 28: Catcher Chris Iannetta /

This offseason has already been exciting for the LA Angels and their fans. Every day in December, we’ll be taking a look at a free agent that makes sense for the Halos. Today, we’ll evaluate a former Angel in Chris Iannetta.

The LA Angels brought in catcher Chris Iannetta the same offseason they signed Josh Hamilton. However, Iannetta didn’t go on to be seen as the worst free agent signing in MLB history. Instead, he gave the Halos four seasons of sub-par play at catcher.

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Iannetta was a solid defensive catcher, but left much to be desired when he was at the plate himself. He had a .226 batting average in his four years with the Halos. While that doesn’t make any fan excited, another stat could make general manager Billy Eppler take a look at Iannetta.

Iannetta had a great approach at the plate. He had a .342 on-base percentage, and found ways to contribute even when his bat wasn’t hot. Now, he may be experiencing a late-blooming in his career. In 2017, Iannetta hit .254 with a .354 OBP in 89 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He also hit 17 home runs, playing the majority of his games in the pitcher’s ballpark that is Chase Field in Arizona.

Iannetta now sits at home without a team. While the Halos would not bring him in as their starting catcher, it would be wise to bring in a capable backup for Martin Maldonado, who went from hitting .251 (.313 OBP) in the first half of the season to a lowly .183 (.227) in the second half. This was due to the fatigue from playing 138 games.

While Maldonado will surely be working on his conditioning this offseason, the Angels need to seriously consider bringing in a catcher who is competent enough to catch 30-50 games next season. Otherwise, they will be seeing the second half version of Maldonado again.

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Yes, they have bigger needs. However, big needs do not mean that the Halos can afford to ignore the smaller ones such as backup catcher. Chris Iannetta can give the Angels a low-risk option who could come in and play solid baseball when asked upon.