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Colorado Rockies sign catcher Chris Iannetta to a two-year deal

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An old friend is returning to Coors Field.

Old friend Chris Iannetta is returning to the Colorado Rockies on a two-year, $8.5 million deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. FanRag’s Jon Heyman was the first to report the specific terms of the contract.

Iannetta, who will turn 35 in April, hit .254/.354/.511, a 120 wRC+, in 316 plate appearances with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017. The right-handed catcher also spent the first six seasons of his career in Colorado. During his first stint in Denver from 2006-11, he posted a .235/.357/.430 slash line in 1,733 plate appearances, good for a 101 wRC+.

One particular positive that Iannetta brings to the Rockies is his on-base ability. He walked in 11.7% of his plate appearances in 2017 and has a 13.6% walk rate in his career. The only returning Rockie with a better walk rate in 2017 was Tony Wolters, though he doesn’t bring nearly as much power as Iannetta.

Defensively, Iannetta has generally graded out well below average. Baseball Prospectus rates him 89 runs worse than average for his career, but he is coming off a season in which he rated 6.5 runs above average, so perhaps he’s improving as a pitch framer late in his career.

As it stands now, Iannetta appears slated to be the primary starter behind the dish for the Rockies with Tony Wolters serving as the backup. Of course, it remains possible that the Rockies will bring in another catcher—the Rockies have also shown interest in Jonathan Lucroy—in which case Iannetta would likely slide into a backup role.