Cardinals: What does the Tyler Heineman signing mean for St. Louis?
The St. Louis Cardinals brought in a veteran catcher on a minor-league deal and that does nothing to impact Yadier Molina’s status.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in agreement with free-agent catcher Tyler Heineman on a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to Spring Training, the team announced.
Heineman, 29, is not the Cardinals’ replacement for Yadier Molina. Let’s make that clear. But what he does provide is a veteran option with some major-league experience the last two seasons with the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants. In 62 plate appearances in the majors, he has hit only .208/.288/.302, but has performed much better in five minor-league seasons with a .287/.353/.430 slash.
For an organization facing uncertainty at catcher, Heineman is the kind of low risk and cheap option that makes sense. Molina and Matt Wieters are both free agents, leaving Andrew Kzizner as the only catcher on the 40-man roster. It allows the team to continue negotiating with both players while having more peace of mind about their internal catching depth.
But this is only the beginning of their offseason quest to address the catcher position. While Molina is considered likely to return, his market is strong. The New York Mets and New York Yankees join the Cardinals and three other teams in pursuit of Molina, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, with Molina continuing to seek a two-year deal in free agency.
The addition of the Mets to Molina’s market is particularly worrisome for the Cardinals considering that Steve Cohen is the richest owner in baseball and intends to spend. The team has been connected to top free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto and are searching for someone behind the plate with Wilson Ramos becoming a free agent.
It just adds to the question marks that the Cardinals face this offseason. The first priority is figuring out Molina’s situation and attempting to bring him back to St. Louis for his 18th and potentially 19th seasons. But for now, the Heineman addition gives them a security blanket behind whoever starts at catcher – and that is something the organization desperately needed.