Seattle signs veteran Chris Iannetta to 1-year deal
SEATTLE (AP) Chris Iannetta has a new team and a chance to prove last season was a disappointing outlier in his career.
Iannetta agreed to a $4.25 million, one-year contract with the Mariners on Monday with the expectation he will be Seattle's starting catcher heading into 2016. The deal includes $1.75 million in performance bonuses next season and a 2017 club option for $4.25 million that could become guaranteed at $6 million.
''I think it was an opportunity to get back and in a situation to play and prove that this past year was just a down year,'' Iannetta said on a conference call.
To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, Seattle designated catcher John Hicks for assignment.
Iannetta spent the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Angels but struggled at the plate this year, hitting .188 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs. The batting average was the lowest of his career. A year earlier, Iannetta hit .252 in 108 games.
New Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto saw Iannetta up close the past few seasons with the Angels and said the addition provides ''depth at a critical position.''
It also takes some stress off Mike Zunino behind the plate. The No. 3 pick in the 2012 amateur draft was sent to the instructional league late last season in the hope of rebuilding his swing. Zunino batted .174 with 132 strikeouts in 112 games.
''I think Chris has always drawn deep at-bats and gets on base. Even relative to a rough year on batting average, the other numbers all stacked up,'' Dipoto said. ''As a result, I think Chris is a good candidate for a bounce-back season offensively.''
Seattle will be the third team for Iannetta, who started his career with Colorado.
Dipoto also said the Mariners hope to re-sign free agent right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who turned down the club's qualifying offer. Iwakuma was slowed by injuries last season, but made 20 starts and was 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA. He threw the first no-hitter of his career.
Ianetta can earn $150,000 each for 75, 80, 85, 115 and 120 games started next year and $200,000 apiece for 90, 95, 100, 105 and 110.
His 2017 option would become guaranteed at $6 million if he starts 100 games in 2016 and does not end the season on the disabled list with an injury to his right elbow, back or either hip. If Seattle exercises the option at $4.25 million, Ianetta could earn the same performance bonuses in 2017.