Yadier Molina has long stated that he wants to remain with the Cardinals, and he reiterated that hope in an interview with Laura A. Bonnelly V. of Mas Que Pelota (hat tip to Deportivo Z 101’s Hector Gomez). However, Molina also revealed four other teams who have shown interest in his services — the Yankees, Mets, Padres, and Angels.
The two New York clubs had already been linked to Molina’s market, and the Cards have been in talks for seemingly close to a year about another contract to keep Molina in St. Louis. The Angels and Padres are new additions to the hunt, however, and each represents an interesting possible landing spot for the nine-time Gold Glover.
At first glance, San Diego already seems set at catcher, with Austin Nola behind the plate, former top prospect Francisco Mejia slated as the backup and star prospect Luis Campusano making his MLB debut this season. Signing Molina, however, would add immeasurably more experience and some veteran leadership to a team that plans to contend for a championship in 2021. While Nola’s ability to catch makes him a particularly valuable utility asset, he can also play several other positions around the diamond; the Padres could use Nola in a somewhat normal backup catcher role to spell Molina once a week, and then otherwise deploy him at other positions.
Molina has expressed interest in a two-year contract, but even if Molina were to land such a deal, that wouldn’t be much of a roadblock to Campusano as the Padres’ eventual catcher of the future. Mejia could be the odd man out if Molina joined the team, as Mejia has yet to show much over parts of four MLB seasons with the Indians and Padres. That said, Mejia has only 362 career plate appearances, only just turned 25, and was a consensus top-35 prospect as recently as the 2018-19 offseason, so he would still be an interesting trade chip if the Padres made him expendable.
There are some obvious family ties for Molina in Anaheim, as his brother Jose is the Angels’ catching coach, and his other brother Bengie spent his first eight MLB seasons in an Angels uniform. Yadier would also be reunited with his old Cardinals teammate Albert Pujols for the final season of Pujols’ ten-year, $240MM deal with the Halos.
Beyond the personal connections, Molina would also fill a need for Los Angeles since Max Stassi could miss the start of the season after undergoing hip surgery in October. Depending on how quickly Stassi recovers, the Angels could start Molina (and use Anthony Bemboom as the backup) until Stassi is ready, and then potentially move into something closer to a timeshare, though it’s probably safe to guess Molina might end up getting the bulk of the action.