Colorado Rockies: Chris Iannetta was worth more than Rockies paid for

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DENVER, COLORADO - JUNE 16: Chris Iannetta #22 of the Colorado Rockies rounds third base to score on a fielding error on a hit by Charlie Blackmon in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field on June 16, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - JUNE 16: Chris Iannetta #22 of the Colorado Rockies rounds third base to score on a fielding error on a hit by Charlie Blackmon in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field on June 16, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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DENVER — The Colorado Rockies did right by themselves and their best catcher in franchise history on Tuesday. In designating Chris Iannetta for assignment, the Rockies turned over a new leaf at a position that’s been lackluster for a long time.

Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich signed a mid-30s catcher in the middle of a playoff window to be a cheaper alternative at a position of need. What Chris Iannetta brought back to a franchise he spent his first six seasons with was more than expected. Paid like a backup and performing as a platoon player in the seasons prior, in 2018 Iannetta was a replacement-level guy who had to start 84 games and play 110.

Not that Iannetta’s second stint was particularly special, slashing .223/.335/.395 over 162 games in two seasons worth of ball. He socked 17 long balls and drove in 57 but his most valuable skill was catching Kyle Freeland who blossomed into fourth in Cy Young voting last season and ended with a 3.86 ERA in the 256.1 innings they worked together.

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Iannetta did help the Rockies reach the playoffs because he probably outperformed what he should have last year. Did the Rockies mess up by not bringing in somebody else to supplement an aging veteran and a young unproven guy in Tony Wolters who ultimately had his year derailed by injuries? Yes. But that’s not Iannetta’s fault. He did right by the Rockies and the Rockies, in turn, ended up doing right by him Tuesday.

Maybe he never plays big league ball again. However, his release actually gives him a shot to ambulance chase a contender that may lose a backstop to injury. It’s another in a long line of moves over the past few years by Colorado that have been player-friendly. At times, this may cost the Rockies and it’s easy to look at them and say they’ve failed by not selling at deadlines. On the other hand, it’s also what’s helped attract free agents to Colorado: Knowing the Rockies will do right by their players.

Now have they spent the money in poor players and in too much amount? Of course but, again, that’s not the issue at hand.

Iannetta goes down with Carlos Gonzalez as the only two players to wear purple and be a member of three playoff teams. He’s clearly the best catcher in franchise history as the man with the most games played, home runs hit, runs scored, runs driven in and more. In the same sense, his 620 games in purple only amassed a 3.3 fWAR, lower than that of Nolan Arenado just in his 117 games in 2019, which have been a down season thus far.

Next. Young players who could impact the Rockies in September. dark

The catching spot is a position the Rockies have yet to have an icon at. Maybe the two months Dom Nunez gets as this season wraps up will spark a change.

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