With the St. Louis Cardinals releasing Brayan Peña, who could the club consider for Molina’s backup in 2017?
Here’s a quick re-run. Back in November of 2015, the Cardinals had announced that they had signed Peña to a 2 year deal that guarantees him 2.5 million at the end of each year. After this deal was announced, the Cardinals traded Tony Cruz, who had been Yadier Molina‘s backup since 2011, to the Royals in exchange for rookie-ball infielder/outfielder Jose Martinez.
At the time, this seemed like a smart move. The St. Louis Cardinals had talked at nauseum how they needed to give Molina more rest and less playing time, but it never happen. However, with this deal, it seemed like they were finally going to follow through with their promise. But right before opening day, in a sort of “that might as well just happen” situation, Brayan Peña slipped on the dugout stairs, due to somebody “watering” the dugout.
This incident resulted in surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee. What was thought to be a 2-week injury ended up costing him the first few months of the season. He did make a return for a couple of games in July, but he was placed back on the disabled list with knee soreness only a few games later.
It’s hard to call Peña a failed experiment, because if it wasn’t for the ridiculous injury, he may have been a serviceable backup. But, the Cardinals seem to have run out of patience, especially after Molina played in more games during the 2016 season than he has in any years prior.
This leads us to present day. With Peña gone, the Cardinals have several options to consider for next season. Some from within, and some from the free agent market. The following catchers are players John Mozeliak might consider to replace Peña.