It’s not clear as of yet how long Molina will be down. He’s only slashing .265/.294/.397 at the plate, but remains a highly graded pitch framer and unquestioned veteran leader. Going without Molina even for a short stretch could hurt the already scuffling Cards.
This move opens the door for increased action for Matt Wieters, who has turned in good offensive results thus far in limited opportunities. Backing up Molina generally doesn’t make for much playing time. Now, he’ll have at least a bit of a window to expand his case for a larger chance when he reenters the free agent market next year.
That’s not to say that the St. Louis club will just turn over the position to Wieters. This is also a nice chance for the club to give some looks to Knizner, who’s an increasingly interesting prospect and potential long-term replacement for Molina.
A former seventh-round pick out of N.C. State, Knizner has turned in consistently strong offensive numbers on his march through the Cardinals farm system. This year, he’s slashing a healthy .286/.355/.450 with five home runs in 155 plate appearances.
It seems likely the Cards will continue to lean on Molina and Wieters for the duration of the present season once the former is back in action. But Knizner could force his way into the club’s 2020 plans, perhaps serving as Molina’s understudy before taking over the primary backstop role as soon as 2021.