Colorado Rockies: Looking at the Tony Wolters situation
It was early December when the Colorado Rockies decided to agree to terms with former Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta. Iannetta was previously with the Rockies from 2006-11. Some Rockies fans may see it as a nostalgic signing as they’re trying to bring back some type of mid-2000s era when the franchise had some of its most epic seasons.
Though Iannetta was signed, I’m not very sure if he will still be Colorado’s main catcher by the end of the season. Reason being, Tony Wolters may possibly be ready to embrace the starting position.
A little background on Tony Wolters
Wolters was will be entering his third season with the Rockies when pitchers and catchers report. He’s already on the 40-man roster, and can be seen on Colorado’s depth chart as well, behind Iannetta. The majority of his Major League starts took place behind the dish, but Wolters has also appeared at second and shortstop (positions he played in the Cleveland Indians organization before focusing on catching).
He will most likely start this season as the backup catcher. Last season, he struggled to a batting average of .240 with 16 RBI in just 83 games. He hit .267 in the first half of the season, but was ultimately replaced by Jonathan Lucroy via a trade. When Lucroy came on board, Wolters was sent to Triple-A to work on his skills.
The situation at hand
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Let’s talk about the situation with Iannetta and Wolters. Right now, heading into spring training, we are forecasting that Iannetta will be the starter and Tony Wolters will get a few starts in early in the season. My thoughts are set on the fact that before the end of the first half Wolters will become the primary catcher of the Rockies. If all were to go according to plan, my wild prediction would be that the Rockies could trade Iannetta before the All-Star break and call up Tom Murphy to be the back-up. This is how I could see it goes down … but I wouldn’t take my words for fact. Just a thought.
The Rockies signed Iannetta, who hasn’t appeared in triple-digit games since 2014. However, remember, this is a franchise that hasn’t had a catcher make more than 112 defensive appearances since Yorvit Torrealba reached that number in 2007. Think about that.
I wrote earlier about how it may be harder for the Rockies to grab a Wild Card spot this season with the rest of the NL West’s offseason moves. If they’re looking to solidify their place in the division before the All-Star break, their best bet is to assign Wolters as their primary catcher. In order for that timeline to work out, they must develop him during spring training … and he must seize the opportunity.
Next: Could the youth movement push DJ LeMahieu out of Denver?
There has been a lot of talk in the offseason about Colorado signing veterans to firm up their lineup. However, I think if the Rockies want to contend they’re going to have to completely embrace their youth movement. That means putting their faith and trust into Tony Wolters.