News about Yadier Molina provides ominous start to Cardinals' spring

Yadier Molina may be managing a winter ball team in the Dominican Republic, cutting into his time with the Cardinals in 2024.

Dominican Republic v Nicaragua - Serie del Caribe 2024
Dominican Republic v Nicaragua - Serie del Caribe 2024 / Norte Photo/GettyImages

Much of the buzz around the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason has revolved around former catcher Yadier Molina receiving a position as a special adviser to President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak and serving as a mentor to players and coaches within the Cardinals organization. But according to MLB insider Mike Rodriguez, Molina will be taking over as the manager for Leones del Escogido, a team in the Dominican Republic, which will keep him from appearing in Spring Training for several weeks, according to Mozeliak.

Another source disputed this claim. Raul Ramos said that he spoke with the general manager of Criollos de Caguas, the Puerto Rican team that Molina managed in the Caribbean Series, who told him the report of Molina taking over as a full-time manager in the Dominican Republic was false and that Molina will remain with the Puerto Rican team.

Regardless of why Molina will not report to Spring Training when it starts, it's not a good look for the Cardinals. Manager Oliver Marmol stressed the importance of the team's players and coaches being on the same page to start the year, and early in Spring Training would be the optimal time for Molina to work with the team and meet the new players, helping them work on what is necessary to succeed in 2024.

Molina's absence during this pivotal time suggests that his role with the Cardinals will be far smaller than what fans and perhaps even members of the Cardinals were expecting. But if the acquisition of this new position in the Dominican Winter League is true, the fact that Mozeliak was willing to acquiesce to Molina spending less time with the Cardinals in exchange for receiving more managing experience could imply that the team believes Molina will succeed Marmol in 2025.

While the potential of Molina becoming the manager of the Cardinals in the future is exciting, it appears that for now, the front office is expecting him to serve in more of a figurehead role than anything else as Mozeliak lets him pursue other opportunities, putting the Cardinals on the back burner. The Cardinals don't want a repeat of 2023, but the unexpectedly diminished role of Molina with the team paints a grim picture to start the year.