Jose Molina Rumors

AL East Rumors: Blue Jays, McCann, Kuroda, Orioles

Teams have asked the Blue Jays about Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he hasn't "entertained the idea" of trading either player.  Bautista hit .259/.358/.498 with 28 homers in 2013 and saw his season end early after being shut down due to a hip issue.  Encarnacion had a solid campaign, posting a slash line of .272/.370/.534 with 36 home runs.  Bautista is owed $14MM annually through 2015 with a club option for the same amount in 2016 while Encarnacion will make $19MM through '15 with a $10MM club option for '16.  Here's more out of the AL East…

  • The Yankees are refusing to punt and are living for today with their Brian McCann signing, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  McCann's lefty pull power should provide a huge boost in 2014 (and probably '15 and '16), but beyond that is a mystery.
  • Within the same article, Sherman writes that the Yankees are now more upbeat about the chances of Hiroki Kuroda returning.  There remains a chance that the veteran pitcher decides to play in Japan next season. 
  • The McCann agreement allows the Yankees to take their time developing Gary Sanchez, their top prospect per MLB.com, knowing McCann will eventually move to first base or they can use him as a trade chip, tweets the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand
  • Feinsand, in a second tweet, sees the backup job coming down to Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli with Chris Stewart being non-tendered. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz estimates the arbitration eligible Cervelli and Stewart will each earn $1MM.
  • Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders how McCann's new $85MM deal with the Yankees affects the Orioles' Matt Wieters.  Wieters’ offensive numbers aren’t as good, but he is is two years younger than McCann and Scott Boras will certainly dig up data to show that Wieters is deserving of more money.
  • Meanwhile, Alex Speier of WEEI.com looks at what McCann's deal might mean for Red Sox free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Salty is now the best avaialble free agent catcher and his market should now start to take shape. 
  • A combination of familiarity and affordability led to Jose Molina returning to the Rays, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  Financial terms of the yet-to-be-completed deal are not yet known, but Topkin writes that it's unlikely that he received more than the $3.3MM total he made the last two seasons.
  • The Orioles won't re-sign Tsuyoshi Wada, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. The O's declined their club option on Wada earlier this month; but, at the time, the door was said to be open for a minor league deal in Baltimore.
  • The Orioles need to be creative in wringing the most value out of Jim Johnson, writes the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina. Encina dangles the idea of moving Johnson, who MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects to receive $10.8MM in arbitration, into the rotation, but that begs the questions of whether starting is a good fit for the 30-year-old right-hander and who will step in as closer. 

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Rays, Jose Molina Working On Two-Year Deal

4:44pm: The two sides are indeed negotiating a two-year deal, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The contract could be finalized next week.

2:51pm: The Rays are making progress on re-signing catcher Jose Molina, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link). The two sides could be working on a two-year deal, Olney hears.

The 38-year-old Molina batted .233./.290/.304 in 99 games for the Rays last season — the lowest offensive output of the past four years for Molina. However, he's regarded as one of the game's best defensive catchers and is an expert in the art of pitch-framing. He's also caught 38 percent of opposing base-stealers throughout his career.

The Rays currently figure to deploy Jose Lobaton as their everyday backstop. Other free agent options such as Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and perhaps even A.J. Pierzynski may be well beyond the Rays' price range. They've been linked to Ryan Hanigan as well, who would represent an affordable, defense-first alternative for GM Andrew Friedman, should things with Molina fall through.


Rays Pick Up Options For Shields, Rodney, Molina; Decline For Scott

The Rays have officially exercised their 2013 club options for James Shields, Fernando Rodney, and Jose Molina, the team announced. They also declined their option for Luke Scott.

Both Molina ($1.8MM) and Shields ($10.25MM) were expected to have their options picked up. The 35-year-old Rodney pitched to a 0.60 ERA with 48 saves this year, so his $2.5MM option was a no-brainer. Scott, 34, hit .229/.285/.439 with 14 homers and will receive a $1MM buyout rather than a $6MM salary.



Rays Expected To Exercise Jose Molina’s Option

The Rays are expected to exercise their $1.8MM option on catcher Jose Molina for 2013, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter).  The move effectively costs the Rays $1.5MM as Molina’s buyout was worth $300K.

At the very least, Molina provides Tampa Bay with a capable backup as they work with a limited budget this winter.  The backstop hit .223/.286/.355 with eight homers in 274 plate appearances last year but was worked exceptionally well with the club’s pitchers. 

The Rays now have just two options remaining in Fernando Rodney and Luke Scott.  Rodney is expected to be retained at $2.5MM while Scott will likely get a buyout of $1MM over a $6MM salary.


Rays Sign Jose Molina

The Rays officially announced the signing of catcher Jose Molina today to a one-year deal with a club option.  The $1.8MM deal pays $1.5MM for Molina's 2012 salary and includes a club option at the same price for '13 with a $300K buyout.  Molina jumps to the top of the Rays' depth chart, as yesterday they traded catcher John Jaso to the Mariners for reliever Josh Lueke and a player to be named later or cash considerations.     

With the Rays, the 36-year-old Molina appears to have a shot at topping his season-bests of 297 plate appearances and 737 innings caught, both set in 2008 with the Yankees.  Molina is known for his defense (especially in framing pitches), but in 2011 he had one of his best offensive years in a limited 191 plate appearance sample.  Molina is "one of the best defensive catchers in baseball over the past decade," in the words of Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. The Blue Jays will receive a supplemental draft pick for their loss.  Molina is represented by ACES.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports broke the story on November 17th, with Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal, and Jayson Stark adding details today.


American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here

Updated team decisions:

Teams with decisions still due:


Rays, Jose Molina Nearing One-Year Deal

The Rays are close to signing catcher Jose Molina to a one-year contract with an option for 2013, Major League sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com.

Molina, 36, is a 12-year veteran who spent the past four-plus seasons in the AL East with the Yankees and Blue Jays as a backup. A defense-first catcher (redundant, I know), Molina is a career .241/.286/.344 hitter, although he posted a .281/.342/.415 line in 2011 with Toronto, albeit in 191 plate appearances.

The Rays went with a catching platoon in 2011, divvying up playing time pretty evenly between Kelly Shoppach and John Jaso. Shoppach, a free agent, will presumably sign elsewhere this offseason, according to Morosi, so Molina could perhaps take his place in that time-share, barring any other moves by Tampa Bay for a catcher.

Molina is a Type B free agent, so the Blue Jays will receive a supplemental first-round pick for losing him.


Tigers Notes: Ellis, Hill, Molina, Laird

The Tigers had already locked up Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta, Joaquin Benoit and Victor Martinez by November 23rd of last year. Here’s the latest on the team as they start the current offseason more quietly… 

  • The Tigers seem to believe they can find help via trades, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.  The club has given up a lot in the past but they are willing to deal anyone but their top minor league prospects.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press that the Tigers didn’t offer contracts to Mark Ellis, Jamey Carroll or Aaron Hill, three middle infielders who recently signed two-year deals. Should the Tigers pursue free agent middle infielders such as Clint Barmes or Kelly Johnson, they’d likely be looking at a two-year commitment given the deals we’ve seen so far and the number of teams with openings at second or short.
  • The Tigers are considering Jose Molina, Matt Treanor, Ramon Castro and former Tiger Gerald Laird as possible backup catchers, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). All four backstops are free agents who could give Alex Avila an occasional breather while keeping Martinez’s knees fresh so he can contribute on offense.

Blue Jays Exercise Jose Molina’s 2011 Option

The Blue Jays exercised Jose Molina's 2011 option, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. The club chose to retain the 35-year-old instead of buying him out for $200K.

Molina hit .246/.304/.377 last year with six homers after signing with the Jays in February. Alex Anthopoulos' low-risk investments in Molina and John Buck paid off this season, but the GM now has a decision to make. J.P. Arencibia appears ready to catch in the big leagues and Buck has expressed interest in returning. It seems unlikely that both Arencibia and Buck will have spots on the team's opening day roster, but Anthopoulos called Buck to tell him the club still has interest in working out a deal (Twitter link).


Anthopoulos Pleased With Free Agent Additions

When the Blue Jays targeted free agents last offseason, they wanted to complement their young pitching. Not necessarily with veteran starters, but with established catchers and proven defenders. Halfway through the 2010 season, the Blue Jays’ free agent signings appear to have helped with the development of starters like Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow. But free agent additions John Buck and Alex Gonzalez have contributed on offense, too.

Buck and Gonzalez have paired up for 30 home runs – 14 more than they combined to hit all of last season. It isn't exactly what the Blue Jays expected, but GM Alex Anthopoulos won't complain about a player who leads all MLB shortstops in home runs (17) at a bargain salary ($2.75MM).

“[Gonzalez has] been great, he’s certainly been more than we could have hoped for,” Anthopoulos told MLBTR Saturday. “We certainly wouldn’t have expected to have this number of home runs so early.”

And Anthopoulos, who spent about $11MM on major league free agents in his first offseason as the team’s GM, was expecting moderate power from Buck. So far, the backstop has exceeded the team’s expectations.

“I don’t know that we saw the All-Star game coming,” Anthopoulos conceded.

Buck has 13 home runs this season, second only to Mike Napoli among MLB catchers. But Buck didn’t join the Jays to hit home runs. He wanted to work with the Blue Jays’ pitchers.

“I can let them know that they can learn from each outing even if it’s a terrible outing, which I think they’re doing,” Buck said.

The Blue Jays appealed to catcher Jose Molina for two reasons. First of all, he wanted a big league job. And like Buck, Molina wanted to guide the Jays’ pitchers through the ups and downs of a major league season.

“We try to help the staff to become better and I think that’s what we’ve been doing,” Molina said. “I mean sometimes it’s going to work, sometimes it doesn’t, but I think the main thing is that [the pitchers] keep their focus every day.”

Molina (.751 OPS, $0.8MM salary) and Buck (.813 OPS, $2MM salary) have been pleasant surprises at the plate, but Anthopoulos says he signed the pair because of what they can do behind the plate. Though Gonzalez had flashed power with the Marlins (23 homers in ’04) and Reds (16 homers in ’07), his defense appealed to the Blue Jays front office, too.

“In this division you can’t give away outs,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re going to run young starters out, which was really going to be the core of this team, so having a plus glove at [shortstop] was important.”

Anthopoulos signed one more major free agent in his rookie offseason. The Blue Jays front office determined that Kevin Gregg’s second half slow-downs (3.84 first half ERA, 4.41 second half ERA) could have been related to knee issues that no longer appeared serious. They signed Gregg for $2.75MM and he has generally been effective, saving 20 games and posting a 3.71 ERA with 9.8 K.9 and 4.8 BB/9.

Gregg is a trade candidate, since the 44-44 Blue Jays trail the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox. Lots of Blue Jays, including Anthopoulos’ recent additions, could appeal to other clubs, but Gregg is one player who isn’t thinking about the rumors.

“I could care less,” Gregg said. “I like it here, I like all the guys, I like everything that we’ve got going here. I wish our record was a little bit better, but I still think we’ve got the potential to win a lot of games.”