The St Louis Cardinals are bringing back franchise legend Yadier Molina for another season in 2022. This makes Andrew Knizner’s future with the team murky.
It was not long ago that a promising young catcher was sent packing. Yadier Molina has been the face of the St. Louis Cardinals for almost two decades and has solidified the catching position. That has made things relatively easy for the Cardinals but more complicated for the catchers developing in the system, trying to scratch and claw for playing time at the major league level.
That young catcher was Carson Kelly, whom you may recall was included in the trade for Paul Goldschmidt. His future obviously was not going to be in St. Louis so the Cardinals made the only move that made sense and flipped him as a trade asset.
The same scenario is playing out again only a few years later. The Cardinals have catcher Andrew Knizner itching for significant playing time behind Molina, only now Knizner is feeling the pinch with catching prospect Ivan Herrera coming into view in the rearview mirror.
With Molina still in the cards, pun intended, for 2022, that further complicates the outlook for Knizner. Herrera could be major-league ready for 2023 and seems likely to step into the role. Unless the Cardinals and Knizner decide that his future is as a backup catcher, the logical move here is to trade him.
The Cardinals are not without needs and there are certainly teams that could use a major league ready catcher. I think Knizner could be a suitable everyday catcher, but let’s face it, he’s not getting that chance in St. Louis.
I’m not saying that’s the wrong choice because Molina is a Cardinals icon and still does a great job. He’s valuable to this team in so many ways. I am glad to see him returning next season and hopefully retire as a St. Louis Cardinal.
But I also understand why Knizner could be frustrated. He has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues and starting once a week is not ideal for a young catcher. If the Cardinals really think Herrera is the future at catcher, and Yadier Molina is clearly the present, where does that leave Knizner?
For all sides, an offseason trade makes the most sense and with the Molina extension news, just became much more likely.