Bengie Molina Rumors

East Notes: Rays, Molina, Mets, Wright

The legend of Jed Lowrie grew a little more today thanks to another homerun, so let's check in on his team plus a few others in the two Eastern divisions…

  • SI.com's Jon Heyman says that while the Rays will look for a bat to replace Manny Ramirez, they won't have his full $2MM salary at their disposal. Felipe Lopez ($1MM) and Casey Kotchman ($750K) are two recent call-ups cutting into the team's budget.
  • Within the same article, Heyman says that Bengie Molina could be an option for the Red Sox, who will reportedly address their catching situation within two weeks. Bengie recently said he's retired "for now."
  • Joel Sherman of The New York Post says that it's probably for the best that the Mets have the worst record in the NL at 5-12 because "cleaning house is what will help speed the process toward the Mets' next good team and away from this unacceptable lot."
  • In a second article, Sherman muses about a possible David Wright trade, but not as a pure salary dump. "[The] Mets have to be open to the possibility that a team in contention … would be willing to pay $1.25 for $1 worth of talent."

Jose Molina Says Bengie Still Wants To Play

Bengie Molina said he is retired "for now" earlier this week, but his brother Jose told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Bengie still wants to play. He made it clear that his older brother would only sign a contract that showed him "sufficient respect," likely ruling out a minor league pact.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi asked Jose, his former player, if Bengie planned on playing this season during a Spring Training game this week, but Rosenthal says that was likely out of his own curiosity. GM Brian Cashman has said flatly the team is not looking for help at catcher despite Francisco Cervelli's fractured foot. Prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine are currently competing for the backup job behind Russell Martin in Cervelli's stead.

The Padres expressed interest in Bengie earlier this month, and the Astros figure to be looking for some catching help as well.


Bengie Molina: “For Now, I’m Retired”

Although Bengie Molina isn't filing any papers yet, he told Newsday's Ken Davidoff in a phone interview "for now, I'm retired." Molina is leaving the door open for a comeback, saying that he doesn't want to officially file his retirement papers until he's certain his career is over.

"A lot of my teammates and friends want me to come back," said the veteran backstop. "I love the game. It gave me life… I wish I could be playing right now. But I've got other priorities right now…. It could be how Pedro [Martinez] did it halfway through [2009], something like that. It's not like I'm planning on doing that. If it comes up, and I'm ready to go, I'll do it."

A month ago, Molina was still talking to teams and debating whether or not to play in 2011. When the Padres expressed some interest in the 36-year-old last week, it sounded as if it would take at least a modest guaranteed salary to convince Molina to sign anywhere.


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Heyman On Phillies, Davis, Molina, Mets

The Phillies are concerned about Chase Utley's injured right knee but, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com they hadn't called the Rangers about Michael Young as of this morning. Here's the latest on the Phillies and notes from around the league:

  • Phillies scout Charley Kerfeld had been watching the Rangers and may have been scouting Young.
  • Chris Davis has an option left, so the Rangers are expected to send him down to start the season in the minors, despite his strong spring performance so far.
  • 22-year-old Dodgers prospect Rubby De La Rosa is impressing with his upper-90s fastball and command.
  • Though the Padres would like Bengie Molina to return to action at a bargain price, they're under the impression that the backstop is in "retirement mode." The Padres expressed interest in Molina earlier in the week, after Gregg Zaun retired, but they don't have much left in their budget.
  • It remains unlikely that Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo will break camp with the Mets, even though the team doesn't have tremendous depth from the left side out of the bullpen or at second base.

Padres Express Interest In Bengie Molina

7:24pm: Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News spoke with Molina today and heard that he's definitely not retired (Twitter link). However, he won't play unless he gets a guaranteed deal at a respectable salary.

6:55pm: The Padres inquired on Molina and heard that he is retired, according to Dan Hayes of the North County Times (on Twitter).

6:23pm: Gregg Zaun retired mere hours ago, and the Padres are already after a former platoon partner of his. The San Diego front office reached out to Bengie Molina, according to Marty Caswell of XX 1090 in San Diego (on Twitter). However, Molina said he's not inclined to play and sounds retired. 

Molina was talking to a couple of teams a month ago, though at the time he was unsure whether to accept their offers“They're not offering what we want, for sure. I don’t know right now what’s going to happen," Molina told Newsday's Ken Davidoff. Molina is looking for significant playing time and $4MM or so in salary, which could be problematic since the Padres intend to make Nick Hundley their primary catcher and have less financial might than most teams.

The Astros just lost Jason Castro to injury so Molina has had a couple of potential destinations emerge this spring. MLBTR's Mark Polishuk took a close look at the Astros' catching options last week.


The Astros’ Catching Options

Jason Castro's 2011 season came to a quick end when the news broke that Castro had suffered a torn ACL in his right knee.  The injury leaves the Astros with Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles as their top internal options behind the plate, and it's possible that Houston is content to stick with this duo.  Quintero is a solid defender, if nothing else, and Towles is just a couple of years removed from being considered a top prospect himself, so the Astros might be willing to give Towles one last chance to prove himself at the Major League level.

As with any notable injury, however, the hot stove is already heating up with speculation about who Houston could pursue if the team looked outside its organization.  Brian McTaggart of MLB.com and David Golebiewski of Fangraphs have both already chimed in on the situation, so let's take a look at their possible candidates…

  • Ryan Doumit.  Pittsburgh is known to be shopping the veteran, and willing to eat some of his $5.1MM salary for the right talent in return.  MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, however, wonders if the Astros would really give up anything of value for just one year of Doumit.
  • A.J. Ellis.  He isn't exactly a proven veteran, but Ellis could be available.  Ellis and Dioner Navarro are battling to be Rod Barajas' backup in Los Angeles.
  • Jesus Flores.  The Nationals could be the most fitting trade partner here, given the number of catchers on their roster.  Flores has looked healthy in Spring Training and could probably be obtained at a low cost.
  • Tyler Flowers.  His future with the White Sox suddenly became blurry following a mediocre 2010 season in Triple-A and A.J. Pierzynski's new two-year contract with the club.  Flowers is just 25, however, and was ranked by Baseball America as the 60th-best prospect in the game heading into last season.  It's very unlikely that Chicago has already given up on Flowers.
  • Bengie Molina.  Unlike these other players, Molina is a free agent, and would cost Houston nothing but money.  We heard last month that Molina was on the fence about returning next season since he couldn't find a team that would offer him regular playing time.
  • Brian Schneider.  McTaggart observes that Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro Jr. have collaborated before, most notably on the deal that sent Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia last summer.  Schneider and Carlos Ruiz make a nice lefty-righty platoon, however, and it's unlikely the Philles would want to break that combination up. 
  • Kelly ShoppachJohn Jaso is pencilled into the starting job in Tampa Bay, so the Rays could listen to offers for their veteran backup, who makes $3MM in 2011.

McTaggart also notes the Yankees' minor league depth at catcher, but says they're an unlikely trade partner since the Astros would be looking for a Major League-ready catcher.  Besides, New York is dealing with their own injury problems behind the plate, as Francisco Cervelli will be sidelined with a broken foot.


Cafardo’s Latest: Peavy, Gonzalez, Molina, Beltre

In today's notes column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes about the Orioles' rebuilding process, which included renovations to the team's Spring Training and minor league facilities. "There was no magic formula," said president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. "We're not doing anything that hasn't been done before. The Orioles I grew up with did it with scouting and player development, and we're doing it the same way now."

Here are the rest of Cafardo's rumors…

  • Both Yankees and Red Sox executives spoke out against revenue sharing last week, but no one wants a salary cap and the player's union won't allow one anyway.
  • The early signs are good for Jake Peavy, who is coming back from a detached lat muscle. One scout called Peavy "trade bait for sure" if he's healthy and the White Sox slip out of contention. "Though teams may come after Mark [Buehrle] first."
  • John Boggs, agent for Adrian Gonzalez, has not talked to the Red Sox about an extension since December, though something may be set up soon. Boggs will not be in Florida until the third week of March.
  • The Brewers don't want to bring in someone like Bengie Molina in the wake of Jonathan Lucroy's broken finger because they know their young backstop will be back in a few weeks.
  • When the Red Sox drew the line at four years and $52MM for Adrian Beltre, one of their fears was his potential to get hurt given his all-out approach. Beltre suffered a calf strain recently and may be out for up to a month.

Cafardo’s Latest: Molina, Aceves, Nathan, Cameron

Bruce Bochy, coming off a World Series victory, tops Nick Cafardo's list of baseball's best managers in the Boston Globe. Cafardo, who ranks baseball's skippers 1 through 30, praises Bochy's "flawless postseason," explaining that he "had a pretty dynamite pitching staff in San Francisco but basically took a team of vagabonds to the highest peak." Here are some other items of interest from Cafardo's piece:

  • Bengie Molina has gone back and forth on whether he wants to play this year. A team like the Red Sox wouldn't mind adding him for insurance, but Molina would be looking for a job that offers fairly consistent playing time.
  • Alfredo Aceves, who recently signed with the Red Sox, "wasn't pleased" that the Yankees didn't show a stronger interest in re-signing him. Brian Cashman said the Yanks only offered Aceves a minor league deal due to injury concerns.
  • Joe Nathan's recovery from Tommy John surgery is on track and he expects to be ready for the start of the season. Twins management is confident in Nathan's health as well, which is why the team didn't make significant additions to a bullpen that lost Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, and Jon Rauch.
  • Although Cafardo thinks Mike Cameron will see plenty of playing time in Boston this year, he cautions that the outfielder could become trade bait before the end of Spring Training. One National League scout's thoughts: "Cameron is a guy who fits well on a team because he’s versatile, plays excellent defense, and can hit left-handed pitching. A team like the Phillies would have to be interested, but he’s a guy who could help a lot of teams."

Molina Talking To Teams, Unsure About 2011

Bengie Molina is talking to “a couple of” teams, but hasn’t decided whether he’ll play in 2011, according to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff. The catcher told Davidoff that he has “no idea” whether he’ll sign with one of the interested teams.

“They're not offering what we want, for sure. I don’t know right now what’s going to happen," Molina said.

Molina is looking for significant playing time and a payday of $4MM or so, according to Davidoff. Last month, Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that Molina could return for a special opportunity. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a team like the Rockies or Royals (my speculation) express interest in Molina as a backup, but it will be a challenge for him to find regular playing time at this point in the offseason.

In 118 games for the Giants and Rangers last year, Molina hit .249/.297/.326. He hit at least 15 homers each season from 2005-09, before hitting just five long balls in 2010. The 36-year-old has played for the Angels, Giants, Rangers and Blue Jays in 13 Major League seasons.


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Heyman On Pettitte, Millwood, Molina, Wandy

Yankees people seem a bit more optimistic about the potential return of Andy Pettitte, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. They’ll consider alternatives such as Kevin Millwood, but only after hearing from Pettitte. Here are the rest of Heyman’s rumors:

  • The Indians and Royals remain possibilities for Millwood.
  • One rival executive doesn’t think the Bartolo Colon signing means much for the Yankees. "There is no real risk. But there is no real reward, either," the executive said.
  • Bengie Molina might consider returning for “special opportunities,” Heyman writes.
  • The Rangers and GM Jon Daniels have started discussing a contract extension and Rangers people expect a new deal for Daniels, whose current contract expires after the 2011 season.
  • One competing executive believes the Astros overpaid for Wandy Rodriguez. I don’t mind this deal for the Astros, since solid left-handed starters aren’t cheap or easy to find and Rodriguez was about to hit free agency.