The St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Yadier Molina has felt like a sure thing, and there appears to be optimism that a deal will be reached.
Yadier Molina returning to the St. Louis Cardinals is nearing the “inevitable” status,” according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, though he notes the possibility remains for another team to swoop in.
This does not mean that Molina and the Cardinals are nearing a deal. What it means is that the team presents two things that he desires: 1) the opportunity to sign a two-year deal and 2) the opportunity to play in St. Louis, which Molina has stated numerous times is his preference.
The Cardinals have indicated their feelings are mutual. When there are two sides motivated to reach an agreement, it is more likely than not that a deal gets done. The reasons a deal has not been reached yet, simply, are that Molina is seeking a multi-year deal when the reality is, he will most likely have to settle for a one-year deal.
The primary factor, however, is that there has been little movement on the free agent catching market. James McCann signed a four-year, $40.6 million deal with the New York Mets. Besides that, top free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto remains unsigned as he seeks a deal that could approach nine figures. Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki and Jason Castro all remain unsigned.
Molina will wait until at least Realmuto signs so the market can establish itself and he can maximize his value in free agency. In the end, the most likely contract will likely be in the one-year, $10 million range with an option (club or mutual) for 2022. The Cardinals will want to have leverage in the second year – it will help them negotiate a deal with Molina in ’22 or allow him to walk after this season – and could be another sticking point in negotiations, though the guaranteed second year will be a bigger obstacle.
It is unlikely the Cardinals reach a deal with Molina before Realmuto signs. But unless something unforeseen happens, he will be returning to St. Louis. It appears to be a matter of when, not if.