Cardinals Rumors: St. Louis reportedly pursuing Yadier Molina
The St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly actively pursuing free-agent catcher Yadier Molina and the interest appears mutual.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ priorities early this winter are simple: explore the Carlos Martinez trade market, and attempt to bring back free agents Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. And it appears that the franchise is wasting little time with the latter.
The Cardinals have “expressed the most interest” in Molina, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"“The Cardinals have expressed the most interest, from what I’ve been told. Molina continues to instruct his agent to see what deal is possible to return to the Cardinals.”"
It is little surprise that the Cardinals are working hard to bring Molina back. After all, he has solidified his Hall of Fame status in 17 years with the organization, establishing himself as one of the best catchers in baseball history. He is a premiere defensive catcher with strong offensive numbers (.283/.333/.404 with 160 home runs and 932 RBI) throughout his career.
Now 38, Molina is not the player he once was. His offensive game has steadily dropped since 2016, hitting .262/.303/.359 with four home runs and 16 RBI in 42 games this season. But he still ranks as an above-average defensive catcher and would provide a dependable option behind the plate for a young pitching staff.
If the Cardinals are able to offer Molina a two-year deal, a scenario that Goold presents, it could lower the average annual value and increase the likelihood a deal gets done. While MLB Trade Rumors projected Molina to land a one-year, $10 million deal in free agency, a two-year deal could fall in the $8 million a year range.
It would allow president of baseball operations John Mozeliak with more financial flexibility when addressing other holes on the roster, such as re-signing Wainwright and adding pieces to an offense in desperate need of upgrades.
But it appears that bringing back Molina is the first priority. There are no certainties in free agency, but it sure feels like the longtime catcher coming back to St. Louis is as close as it gets.