For years, former St. Raphael Academy all-stater Chris Iannetta has heard his name dropped as an oft-rumored trade chip. On Wednesday night, the real thing went down.
The Colorado Rockies, the only organization Iannetta has ever known, traded the 28-year-old catcher to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for pitcher starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood.
â€śWeâ€™re very happy for him. This will be a great opportunity,â€ť said Alan Nero, Iannettaâ€™s agent. â€śUsually when you get traded, someone wants you pretty bad.
â€śEvery year thereâ€™s been rumors because thereâ€™s always been teams interested in him,â€ť continued Nero, a Rhode Island native. â€śCatching is a commodity and Chris is a very intelligent guy and heâ€™s got a lot of upside. When teams trade for you, not only do they want you, but they are counting on that upside.â€ť
Asked how Iannetta took the news, Nero answered, â€śAnybody who gets traded is shocked at first. We all resist change, but after the news sunk in, I think heâ€™s very excited about the opportunity.â€ť
There are a couple of reasons why Colorado went ahead and traded Iannetta, who not too long ago was looked upon as the franchiseâ€™s long term solution at catcher. The Rockies appear on the verge of signing free agent Ramon Hernandez to a two-year deal worth $6.4 million.
Stack Hernandez and Iannetta up side-by-side and youâ€™ll see both were similar players from an offensive standpoint last season. Hernandez, who is seven years Iannettaâ€™s senior, hit .282 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI in 91 games with Cincinnati. Conversely, Iannetta batted .238 with 14 homers and 55 RBI while generally hitting in front of the pitcher in Coloradoâ€™s lineup.
The Rockies are also high on Wilin Rosario at catcher. Last season the 22-year-old prospect smacked 21 home runs in 102 games for Double-A Tulsa.
â€śTypically Colorado just wouldnâ€™t let him go, but at this point the timingâ€™s right,â€ť Nero said. â€śTheyâ€™ve got a young catcher behind him who will eventually be given an opportunity. Plus theyâ€™re about to sign (Hernandez) and I think the timing is right for Chris.â€ť
In 2012, Iannetta will embark on the third and final year of the $8.35 million pact he signed in Jan. 2010. His base salary with the Angels will be $3.55 million. The trade now voids Iannettaâ€™s $5 million team option for the 2013 season.
Iannetta, who turns 29 on April 8, batted .235 with 63 home runs and 236 RBI in 458 games over six seasons with Colorado. A fourth-round pick out of the University of North Carolina in 2004, Iannetta struggled to get going in the first month of the 2009 season upon his demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs. A similar fate played out again in 2010 as Iannetta spent close to two months in Class AAA before rejoining the Rockies.
To work up close with Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a former big league catcher himself, is something that Nero believes will work to Iannettaâ€™s advantage.
â€śThe deal wouldnâ€™t have happened if (Scioscia) didnâ€™t want Chris badly,â€ť Nero said.