Extending Yadier Molina – Now Is the Time!

If the situation with Albert Pujols showed us as fans anything, it’s that the longer you wait to extend a player the closer they get to the potential payday free agency. If a player negotiates with one team, it’s pretty cut and dry. The team offers x amount of money, the player wants y amount of money, and they figure out a number that works for both of them. When other teams come into play, however, it complicates things by adding more potential figures into the mix. That is why I strongly feel that now is the time the Cardinals need to focus on extending Yadier Molina. What will it take?

This offseason is the ideal time to look into a contract extension for our all star catcher. He is in the last year of his current deal, the Cardinals don’t have any impact catchers ready in the farm system, the 2013 free agent class for catchers is thin aside from Mike Napoli and Miguel Montero, and if Yadi adds another gold glove, all star appearance, or even silver slugger to his resume he only stands to become more expensive. The tricky question is to figure out his value.

To get a general idea of his value, we can use the Oliver projections again as they have a six year forecast. Obviously this isn’t an exact science since players can break out or break down at any point. Oliver has Yadier putting up WAR values of 2.2, 2.1, 1.9, 1.7, 1.6, and 1.4 for the next six seasons. If contracts were based solely on projections, we could just multiply those values by the 4.5 million dollars a win is valued at and get a contract but it isn’t that easy. We also need to look at players similar to Yadi to get an idea of a comparable contract.

Due to the physical nature of the job, catchers don’t generally get the huge paydays other position players do. Since the grind of being a catcher takes it toll on the body, most teams have been handing out 3-4 years deal maximum with not very large salaries. Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez are the exceptions, but they were both more accomplished than Yadier offensively at the time of their contract signing and are in the AL where their offensive production can slot over to the DH position. Beyond those two, the three highest paid catchers based on average annual value are John Buck, Brian McCann, and Kurt Suzuki. All three of those catchers achieve most of their value with the bat, so it appears the only catchers earning big paydays are guys that can get it done at the plate. Yadier has improved each year, but is still not an offensive force. I think based on comparable contracts, Yadi’s value has to be looked at as being in the 5-7 million dollar range.

So according to his WAR projection, Yadi should be worth $9,450,000, $8,550,000, $7,650,000, and $7,200,000 in each of the next four years. According to the going rate for defensive-minded catchers, he’s worth about 5-7 million annually. I think the Cardinals could split the difference on that value and offer Yadi a four year deal worth six million annually and still come out ahead. If they are unsure of his production, they could start negotiations with the fourth year being an option. This appears to be a harmless deal, but one that locks up the best defensive catcher in the game through the end of his prime. The window for exclusive negotiation is closing, so the time is now!

What are your thoughts? What kind of deal would you present to Yadi? Would you prevent a deal at all? Is there another target or prospect you think is a better fit?

You can ‘Like’ Redbird Rants by clicking here. You can follow Redbird Rants on Twitter at@FSRedbirdsRant and you can follow Justin McClary on Twitter at @jmcclary22.

Topics: Albert Pujols, Brian McCann, Joe Mauer, John Buck, Kurt Suzuki, Miguel Montero, Mike Napoli, St Louis Cardinals, Victor Martinez, Yadier Molina

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  • Marilyncolor

    Yadi will be making $7M in 2012. His present contract is worth $21.75 M. You are suggesting he take a contract with a lower AAV from 2012 and only a marginal increase in total value. That may seem like good value for a 29 year old catcher but I don’t think that it is likely to tempt him to stay. The Cardinals will have to do better than that if they want to keep him.

  • http://www.redbirdrants.com jmcclary22

    @Marilyncolor I’m not so sure. Albert got significantly more than what the Cardinals offered even though the Cardinals offered significantly more than his projected value over the next ten years. He got a larger contract because of the stigma of being the best player in the game and the ability to DH. Yadi doesn’t have that kind of leverage in negotiations. Since his bat isn’t great, he’s either a starting catcher or a backup catcher. Those are the only options. Most teams are set at starting catcher and the ones that aren’t will more than likely also stick to the current pricing model for starting catchers. Yadi may want 7-10 mil a year, but the fact is most teams don’t appear to be willing to give that kind of money up to a defensive specialist catcher.

  • Marilyncolor

    Yadi will be making $7M in 2012. His present contract is worth $21.75 M. You are suggesting he take a contract with a lower AAV from 2012 and only a marginal increase in total value. That may seem like good value for a 29 year old catcher but I don’t think that it is likely to tempt him to stay. The Cardinals will have to do better than that if they want to keep him.

  • http://www.redbirdrants.com jmcclary22

    @Marilyncolor I’m not so sure. Albert got significantly more than what the Cardinals offered even though the Cardinals offered significantly more than his projected value over the next ten years. He got a larger contract because of the stigma of being the best player in the game and the ability to DH. Yadi doesn’t have that kind of leverage in negotiations. Since his bat isn’t great, he’s either a starting catcher or a backup catcher. Those are the only options. Most teams are set at starting catcher and the ones that aren’t will more than likely also stick to the current pricing model for starting catchers. Yadi may want 7-10 mil a year, but the fact is most teams don’t appear to be willing to give that kind of money up to a defensive specialist catcher.

  • Marilyncolor

    @jmcclary22 If he gets to FA, I think you will be surprised at what some teams will be willing to offer Yadi.

  • Marilyncolor

    @jmcclary22 If he gets to FA, I think you will be surprised at what some teams will be willing to offer Yadi.

  • johnwvideo

    @Marilyncolor@jmcclary22 I totally agree with you on this, IF he gets to free agency, NOTHING would surprise me, actually with Scioscia being a catcher, It would not surprise me if old Art thew a whole lot of money at him to reunite a great pick off team.

    Its a must for management to lock him up now, there is NO one ready to replace Yadie like there was when Matheny was our catcher. Cruz is just not ready. And if they wait to see how ready Cruz or Anderson are, you can be sure Yadie is gone.

    His bat is looking better each year, I would offer him 4 years at a reasonable higher AAV, not give him a pay cut over the term. Teams are still worried to run on him, even if his throw out ratio is getting lower.

  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

    @Marilyncolor@jmcclary22 I totally agree with you on this, IF he gets to free agency, NOTHING would surprise me, actually with Scioscia being a catcher, It would not surprise me if old Art thew a whole lot of money at him to reunite a great pick off team.

    Its a must for management to lock him up now, there is NO one ready to replace Yadie like there was when Matheny was our catcher. Cruz is just not ready. And if they wait to see how ready Cruz or Anderson are, you can be sure Yadie is gone.

    His bat is looking better each year, I would offer him 4 years at a reasonable higher AAV, not give him a pay cut over the term. Teams are still worried to run on him, even if his throw out ratio is getting lower.

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  • BrianMalenke

    I LOVE your blog! I’m very new to the blog community and I’m looking to network. Could you take a look at my blog? In return I’d be happy to include a link to your blog on my front page. Thanks so much! http://wherefantasymeetsreality.blogspot.com/

  • johnwvideo

    I had to come back to read this article again today, since yesterday Rob Rains whom I respect greatly wrote an article on should they trade Yadie now or not ?

    In case you want to read his side, here is his link. It makes since BUT I hate the thought of it!

    http://robrains.com/inside-baseball-should-cardinals-think-about-trading-yadier-molina/

  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

    I had to come back to read this article again today, since yesterday Rob Rains whom I respect greatly wrote an article on should they trade Yadie now or not ?

    In case you want to read his side, here is his link. It makes since BUT I hate the thought of it!

    http://robrains.com/inside-baseball-should-cardinals-think-about-trading-yadier-molina/

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