So much attention has been paid to all of the relief pitcher free-agent signings this winter — especially for the Rockies, who locked up Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Bryan Shaw as anchors for the back end of the “Super Bullpen” — that it’s easy to dismiss or forget the only position player the Rockies have added so far. In this post, Rox Pile takes a look at some thoughts Jeff Bridich shared with MLB Network earlier this week on signing Chris Iannetta to a 2-year, $8.5 million deal and his power potential.
Iannetta is starting to look more and more like a vital addition to the Rockies’ lineup — as a whole, and not just the catching spot — in terms of his offense, and particularly his power. As of this publication, the only returning position players who hit over 15 home runs last year are Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story. Of these three, only Nolan and Chuck had a SLG% over .500, and a park adjusted OPS+ over 100 (132 and 142 respectively). As it stands, that doesn’t leave much power beyond those two MVP candidates in a lineup that already performed poorly for much of 2017.
Last year, in only 272 at-bats, Iannetta slugged .511 with an OPS+ of 114 and knocked 17 dingers. With limited appearances under his belt, Chris already slates as the Rockies 3rd or 4th most valuable hitter entering 2018. However, I’m not sure if that is purely a compliment to Chris or a reminder that Bridich has a lot to accomplish still to make this lineup more of an offensive force and be able to carry us into the Postseason again.
Speaking of Chris, Patrick Saunders shares what can be described as a fun, unique, grin-inducing profile on Iannetta and the high-end wine label he co-founded with former teammate Vernon Wells. I learned a lot reading this piece, such as what “sommelier” means, why Chris and Vernon named their company “Jack,” and even how Iannetta is a first-generation American citizen — his parents emigrated from Italy as young children, hence his family’s love for wine.
I highly recommend this quick and easy read. It’s fun to catch a glimpse of life outside of sports for our favorite athletes, their other passions, and what makes them “just like us” — in this case, being a wine snob.
Did you know Charlie Blackmon started his career in baseball as a LOOGY? In this Q&A, Tracy Ringolsby chats with Chuck about his career-path and how he transitioned from the mound to All-Star and MVP caliber center fielder for the Rockies, his admiration for Manny Ramirez and his unconventional hitting style, how Charlie plans to improve going into 2018, and more. My biggest takeaway? Thank goodness for bone spurs.
Around the League: Hot Stove News
In the Year of the Reliever, another high-end bullpen arm and likely-to-be closer is off the market, as the Twins inked Addison Reed to a two-year deal worth $16.75 million. Like the Rockies, the Twins have been investing more in their pitching staff this offseason, having already signed free-agent pitchers Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke.
This signing is notable for a couple of reasons: Reed is one of the relievers who the Rockies were supposedly taking a closer look at as a possibility for their bullpen. It will be interesting to see how well Reed pitches in Minnesota. Reed, like Wade Davis, was projected to earn a four-year contract, so the shorter two-year deal from the Twins comes as a bit of a surprise. Did Jeff Bridich make the right decision to spend more money on a lengthier contract with Davis? Only time will tell.
The Mets might just look like geniuses for this one. In one of the lowest risk, highest reward signings of the offseason yet, the Mets agreed to terms with Adrian Gonzalez, former All-Star first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers. What makes this deal so great for New York is that the Atlanta Braves will be on the hook for just under $17 million of Gonzalez’s guaranteed salary, leaving the Mets responsible for only the league minimum of $545K.
Injuries have absolutely been a concern for Gonzalez, but if he can remain healthy, he is still only two years removed from a 2.1 WAR season, and three years removed from a 4.0 WAR season (both with LA, 2016 and 2015 respectively). When you take his age into consideration, obviously nothing is guaranteed, but the potential for an offensive rebound still exists for this first baseman who was a force to be reckoned with not long ago. At the very least, thank God this Rockies-killer is out of the NL West again.