The St. Louis Cardinals have locked up catcher Yadier Molina for the next five years for $75 million. He will be the Cardinals catcher until he’s 34 years old. Paying a catcher $15 million when he’s 33 and 34 may not be the best idea but in the end the Cardinals had no choice but to lock up their all-star backstop.
Yadier is coming off his best offensive season of his career. He had career highs in home runs (15), RBI (65) Slugging (.465) while making his third consecutive all-star team. All-star caliber catchers don’t grow on trees and the Cardinals don’t have the prospects at catcher to afford to let Yadier go and call up a kid and throw him in behind the plate. Catchers with his pedigree are hard to come by as well.
Yadier has been the backstop for the Cardinals’ world championship teams in 2006 and 2011. What Cardinal fan can forget his home run in the NLCS against Aaron Heilman in 2006? He’s also one of the best defensive catchers in the game as well. He’s won the gold glove behind the plate four straight years and has led the league in caught stealing percentage three of his eight years. It’s also no secret that the Cardinals pitchers love throwing to Yadier is well. It’s the rapport that’s he’s built with guys like Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia that’s so important as a catcher, there’s no reason to upset the apple cart.
The Cardinals had two choices in this; let Yadier reach free agency and maybe he stays and maybe he doesn’t, and then need to go into free agency trying to replace him by trying to sign a Miguel Montero or a Mike Napoli (if they didn’t get re-signed) or lock up Yadier and don’t worry about catcher for next five years. In my opinion they made the right move in locking up Yadier, though in the least two years of the contract he may be a shell of his former self. Catchers don’t typically age well, and their production tends to drop, but the Cardinals can cross that bridge when they get there. The important thing was to not let this turn into a Albert Pujols situation. He’s going to be a Cardinal for a long time and now everyone including Yadier can relax and look forward to a successful 2012.