Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto announced today that the club has signed free agent catcher Chris Iannetta to a 1-year contract through the 2016 season. To make room on the Major League 40-man roster, catcher John Hicks has been designated for assignment.
"This move improves our depth at a critical position," said Dipoto. "Chris provides us with a solid veteran presence behind the plate, as well as an experienced Major League hitter with strong on-base skills who will lengthen our lineup."
Iannetta, 32, hit .188 (51x272) with 28 runs, 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 34 RBI in 92 games with the Angels last season. He appeared in 85 games behind the plate including 80 starts.
In 10 Major League seasons, he has hit .231 (590x2553) with 332 runs, 125 doubles, 10 triples, 100 home runs, 378 RBI and a .351 on-base percentage in 852 games with Colorado (2006-11) and Los Angeles-AL (2012-15). His .351 on-base percentage since the start of 2006 is T3rd-best amongst catchers (min. 3,000 PA) behind San Francisco's Buster Posey (.375), Toronto's Russell Martin (.352) and tied with Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz (.351). Amongst catchers since 2006 (min. 800 G), his .995 fielding percentage leads the Majors.
Iannetta was selected by Colorado in the 4th round of the 2004 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award and a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy.
Hicks, 26, appeared in 17 games, 14 games behind the plate (10 GS) with Seattle, hitting .063 (2x32) with 1 run, 1 double, 1 RBI and 1 walk. He appeared in 83 games with AAA Tacoma, batting .245 (73x298) with 39 runs, 15 doubles, 1 triple, 6 HR and 35 RBI. In five minor league seasons with Seattle, hit .280 (428x1529) with 229 runs, 82 doubles, 9 triples, 32 home runs & 216 RBI in 403 games after being selected in 4th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
The club now has 10 days to trade, release or outright Hicks to the minors.