Jose Molina Rumors
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.
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 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.
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:
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Frank Francisco (B), Kelly Johnson (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick), Jose Molina (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (on Twitter). They declined to offer Shawn Camp (B) arbitration.
- The Red Sox announced that they offered David Ortiz (A) and Dan Wheeler (B) arbitration. They declined to offer Jason Varitek (B) arbitration. Jonathan Papelbon (A) already signed with the Phillies.
- The Yankees offered Freddy Garcia (B) arbitration according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch (on Twitter).
- The Royals offered Bruce Chen (B) arbitration, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- The White Sox announced they've offered arbitration to Mark Buehrle (B) and not Juan Pierre (B).
- The Athletics announced David DeJesus (B) and Josh Willingham (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) were offered arbitration.
- The Rangers announced C.J. Wilson (A) will be offered arbitration. Modified Type B free agent Darren Oliver does not require an offer.
- The Orioles announced they will not offer arbitration to Vladimir Guerrero (B).
- Twins GM Terry Ryan said today on a conference call that he will offer arbitration to Michael Cuddyer (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) and Jason Kubel (B), and noted that no arbitration offer is necessary for modified Type B free agent Matt Capps.
Teams with decisions still due:
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.
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.
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).
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.”
In his column today for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo explores the effect of Arizona's controversial immigration law on baseball. He also shares a few notes from around the league:
- The Blue Jays' huge collection of scouts should have them well-prepared to deal at this year's trade deadline. Cafardo names a slew of players who the Jays could try to move if they're out of playoff contention, noting that the club will "likely listen to anything." The list includes Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Alex Gonzalez, Scott Downs, Jose Bautista, John Buck and Jose Molina.
- Molina has thrown out eight of 11 basestealers so far this year, a statistic that could intrigue the Red Sox. However, Cafardo says the Sox "will never deal for a catcher who is all defense, no offense."
- Cafardo suggests that Adam Dunn would be a good fit at DH for the Red Sox in the post-David Ortiz era.
- Jarrod Washburn's time off this spring has given him a few extra weeks to recover from offseason knee surgery, though now teams will have to assess how long it will take Washburn to be major league ready. According to Cafardo, the Dodgers' pitching issues make them look every day like a better fit for Washburn.
- A source tells Cafardo that Elijah Dukes' rumored deal with the Tabasco Olmecas of the Mexican League fell through after Dukes failed to show up for a reporting date. Cafardo indicates that the 25-year-old could end up spending the year away from baseball.
The Blue Jays signed Jose Molina to a one-year deal that includes a club option for 2011, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Molina is guaranteed $400K and he makes $400K more if he is on the team's opening day roster. The 2011 club option is worth $1.2MM. The Blue Jays are putting Jesse Litsch on the 60-day DL to make room for Molina.
Molina made $2MM with the Yankees last year, hitting .217/.292/.268 in 155 plate appearances. The 34-year-old has a passable .690 career OPS against lefties, but free agent acquisition John Buck also does better against southpaws (.749 OPS against left-handers, .687 OPS against right-handers).
The move gives the Blue Jays depth to go along with Buck and Raul Chavez. It's a low-risk signing that gives the Blue Jays the power to keep Molina for two seasons if they like his production. The Blue Jays signed Jose's brother, Bengie, to a one-year $5MM deal four years ago.