It would seem that Jerry Dipoto is not a big fan of downtime. Even though the 2012 Angels season hasn't even been over for 48 hours, the team's GM has wasted no time in kicking off the first step in his off-season plan to get the Angels into the playoffs next year. That first step involved what Jerry apparently does best, spending Arte Moreno's money. The recipient of the cash this time out is Chris Iannetta, who has been re-signed to a three-year, $15.55 million deal. So much for the hand-wringing over his mutual option.
Simply put, I love this deal. As a finger in the air estimate, I assumed Iannetta would get around $18 million over three years if he were to hit the open market as starting catcher who provides solid defense and, for a catcher, above average offensive production. Consider the $15.55 million pricetag a "let's just get this done" discount.
But it isn't just the money involved that I love, it is the fact that the Angels finally have some stability at a position that has been the center of turmoil for the last several years. We all know about the churning that went on during the Mathis-Napoli Holy War and the subsequent season in which Scioscia stubbornly committed to Mathis as "his guy." The last thing this team needed was to lose Iannetta to another team and have to re-start their search for a backstop that the Great and Mighty Scioscia would approve of. Wisely, Dipoto moved aggressively to make sure that there was never a chance that Iannetta could be lured away. Done. Taken care of. Moving on.
Speaking of moving on, um, Gretchen (that's my fictional secretary), could you please have Hank Conger come to my office? Thanks.
The Angels catcher of the future for what seems like nearly a decade is now the Angel most likely to be traded. The initial word from the Angels after Iannetta's re-signing is that Conger will be given a chance to win the back-up job. Riiiiiiight. That is what I would say too if I wanted to try and retain a tiny bit of leverage in trade talks, too. For all intents and purposes, Conger is gone. He just doesn't know it yet. Honestly, it would be an upset if he is still on the roster when pitchers and catchers report to camp in February.
Finally, reading between the lines with this swift move suggests to me that Dipoto is lining things up for another big winter, but one in which his financial limits will be more constrained. Locking in Iannetta allows him to check off one item on his shopping list and also gives him a bit more budget certainty when it comes to trying to re-sign Zack Greinke or pursuing other expensive free agents. I suspect this trend will continue in the form of a new contract for Torii Hunter being announced before the end of the post-season and that might even apply to Dan Haren too. But that's all just a hunch. Either way, Jerry is off to a good start this off-season.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Apologies for the lateness of this post. I blame United Airlines for a multitude of reasons.