Cardinals: Examining three fits for Yadier Molina outside St. Louis

Yadier Molina (4) celebrates after hitting a single off of Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Justin Topa (not pictured) for his 2,000 hit of his career during the seventh inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Yadier Molina (4) celebrates after hitting a single off of Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Justin Topa (not pictured) for his 2,000 hit of his career during the seventh inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cardinals are likely to retain Yadier Molina, but here are three teams who could poach him away from St. Louis.

There are arguments to be made against bringing back Yadier Molina, but the most likely outcome remains that the St. Louis Cardinals will retain their longtime catcher.

But the Cardinals have competition. There are reportedly multiple teams involved, including the New York Mets and New York Yankees, as the 38-year-old seeks a two-year deal.

Molina remains a productive defensive catcher and would continue to help a young pitching staff. His offensive game, however, has declined the last couple years, hitting .262/.303/.359 with four home runs and 16 RBI last season, and it is likely those numbers continue to fall in future seasons.

What other teams could be in play for Molina and pose a threat to steal him away from St. Louis? Here are a few options.

New York Mets:

Let’s start with a team who is interested in Molina. The Mets are one of the few teams that intends to buy this winter and they have a lot of money to spend, considering that Steve Cohen is the richest owner in baseball and has indicated a willingness to aggressively spend.

They have a pressing need for an everyday catcher. The team has also been connected to J.T. Realmuto, but it is like the team spends big money elsewhere – perhaps on free-agent outfielder George Springer – and look for a cheaper alternative at catcher. That is where Molina fits in. The Mets pose the most serious threat to poach Molina away from St. Louis, and the fact that they’re involved should worry president of baseball operations John Mozeliak.

New York Yankees:

OK, so I’m not exactly going outside the box with my first two options. But the fit between Molina and the Yankees is strong. The team has a need for a catcher considering that Gary Sanchez provides little defensive value behind the plate and is scouring the market for upgrades.

They also provide Molina with the opportunity to win, and at this stage of his career, that will be appealing. The Yankees feel less likely to sign Molina away from St. Louis than the Mets, but it is easy to see why he would be intrigued by the idea to play in the Bronx.

Philadelphia Phillies:

This only makes sense if the Phillies are unable to retain Realmuto and the early indications are he will be playing elsewhere next season. Philadelphia parted with a significant package of prospects to acquire the All-Star catcher, including pitcher Sixto Sanchez, are now in danger of losing him only a couple years later.

The team would seek a quality replacement, and Molina fits the bill. He’d be an excellent resource and sounding board to their pitching staff, especially a bullpen that struggled mightily in 2020, and could be had at half the cost of Realmuto. Financial constraints are the primary reason that would prevent the Phillies from keeping Realmuto, but Molina should fit into their price range on a multi-year deal.

Prediction: Molina stays with the Cardinals.