Yadier Molina means more to the St. Louis Cardinals than dollar signs can show.
The eight-time gold glove winner and seven-time All-Star has been a vital piece of the St. Louis Cardinals success over the past decade that he’s been with the team.
Yadier Molina’s contract has a $15 million team option for the 2018 season, but the team is thinking about exploring a longer deal with Molina.
The catcher will likely spend the rest of his career in a St. Louis uniform, it’s just a matter of what kind of deal he will get.
Yadier Molina undoubtedly deserves a multi-year deal that will ensure he remains a Cardinal for life. Molina might not be the best offensive weapon and his defensive attributes aren’t what they once were.
Yet, what Molina does for the pitching staff in terms of game management is by far the best of any catcher in Major League Baseball. Molina has the ability to control the tempo and emotions of the pitchers he catches for as well as call the defensive plays from behind the plate.
Last year Molina’s defensive WAR was below one for the first time in the past five years.
Yadier Molina started 143 games for the Cardinals in 2016 and his game load should be managed closely in 2017. Carson Kelly is expected to be Molina’s replacement down the road like Molina was for current Cardinal’s manager Mike Matheny, but Kelly still needs some time to fine tune his skills in the minors.
Even if Molina doesn’t produce the stellar offensive numbers, he is vital for the continued development of Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha as well as the teams most prized prospect, Alex Reyes. There’s also Marco Gonzales, who hasn’t completed a full season with the Cardinal’s big league club.
He missed out on a gold glove for the first time since 2007 and is determined to earn his hardware back.
“When you feel that you won the Gold Glove and it didn’t go your way, it makes you work harder,” Molina told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “That’s where I am right now. I just concentrate on winning it back again. I always say you concentrate on your team winning the World Series, but at the same time with personal stuff, that’s in my mind.”
If Molina can stay healthy he can be a key contributor for the Cardinals. While he doesn’t have the power numbers of Buster Posey, Molina had a.360 OBP and 164 hits, while batting.307. For a catcher than isn’t known for his offensive production, those are still pretty good numbers.
The big “if” centers on Molina’s health. With his knees quickly deteriorating at age 34, Molina needs to keep his body in peak condition. He lost a considerable amount of weight last season, which helped his endurance throughout the season, now he needs to do the same if he wants Cardinal’s general manager John Mozeliak to offer him another extension.
The safe move for the Cardinals would be to stand idle this season and see how Molina plays before determining on whether or not to pick up the team option for 2018, but I think it’s fair to say that Molina won’t ever play for another team as long as Mozeliak is general manager.
Mozeliak said at the Cardinal’s 2017 Winter Warmup, it is something both sides are exploring.
“It has been something that we have thought about. When you talk about extensions, it’s always best to keep that internal. As we look beyond 2017, we have to think through. He’s made it no secret that he wants to stay here. I would imagine that is something we will mutually try to do,” Mozeliak said.
[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]