After nearly two decades in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform, Yadier Molina is a free agent for the first time in his illustrious career. Rarely do we see a catcher have such an incredible and long career, and want to continue playing. But of course, this is Molina we are talking about, one of the most durable catchers in MLB history. He’s a nine-time Gold Glover and an important part of two World Series championship teams. It’s hard to imagine Yadier Molina in anything other than a Cardinals jersey, but the possibility is really there. Especially with the 37-year-old catcher looking for a two year deal, the potential Hall of Famer could be wearing different colors for the first time in his career. Here are some potential landing spots for Molina that aren’t a return to St. Louis.
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels need a lot of pitching help, but they can’t sign a full staff in free agency. One way they can improve the young pitching they have now is to sign a catcher with immeasurable amounts of experience and baseball IQ. Probably Molina’s biggest strength is his ability to navigate a pitching staff and provide leadership and knowledge. The Angels will still need to sign a pitcher or two off the market, but signing Molina could work wonders. Plus a reunion with former Cardinals teammate, Albert Pujols, would be great for baseball in general.
New York Mets
While the New York Mets are in on a couple of other free agent catchers, J.T. Realmuto and James McCann, Molina could be a great fit as well. Realmuto will want a long-term, expensive deal, and McCann is good but doesn’t have a track record, so he is a bit of a risk. Molina has a better track record than any active catcher, and he likely won’t come at the price of a Realmuto. Catcher is definitely a hole on the Mets roster, so Molina could be the best compliment for this talented New York roster.
The Philadelphia Phillies are hoping they can resign Realmuto, but Molina would be a great consolation prize if they don’t. The Phillies have the same catching problems as the Mets and bullpen problems as the Angels. Realmuto won’t come cheap and the Phillies need some pitching help. Molina would help a pitching staff while still contributing offensively. The bullpen is a major problem for the Phillies, but the addition of Molina would also improve the team as it is today.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays have the majority of their AL pennant-winning group of position players intact. The one position that is not carrying over is the catcher spot. Mike Zunino had his option declined, and so there is no experience on their roster at the catcher position. Well Molina has plenty of experience. He’s great at juggling pitching staffs, and the Rays have the most diverse group of pitchers in the league. Offensively, the Rays had a major wart, contact. They were among the worst in the league in the strikeout category. One of the best aspects of Molina’s game, is his ability to make contact. He has never struck out more than 74 times in his career, a rare skill in today’s game. Tampa doesn’t do much spending, so this isn’t the likeliest of landing spots for Molina, but it is an ideal fit.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have three young catchers on their roster, but they’ve shown interest in Realmuto. If they are interested in improving at the catcher spot, then Molina could fit too. The money saved from signing Molina as opposed to Realmuto could go towards a pitcher, say, Trevor Bauer. The veteran is looking for a two-year deal, which could be perfect for this team. The Blue Jays have one of the youngest rosters in the league, so Molina could mentor the whole roster, not just the young pitchers and catchers. However, he wouldn’t just be there to mentor, as he is still a good all-around catcher. Toronto is a young team that is just a piece or two away from being a great team, Molina could be one of the pieces.
Yadier Molina could very well resign with the Cardinals instead of these teams. It’s hard to imagine him anywhere else. Regardless of whether he resigns or goes to any other landing spots, Molina is still a good player who can provide intangibles that go well beyond the surface statistics.
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