It feels odd even to contemplate different uniforms for longtime Cardinals Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, but it’s far from certain either or both will remain in St. Louis. Mark Saxon of The Athletic provides an update on the state of ongoing talks between the club and these grizzled veterans.
While both players are pushing forty, each has clear appeal on the market. Molina is considered a master of his craft behind the dish and remains a palatable hitter, even if he’s unlikely to turn in any more average-or-better seasons with the bat. And Wainwright has racked up 237 1/3 innings of 3.91 ERA pitching dating back to the start of the 2019 season. Both players rank among MLBTR’s top 50 free agents.
It’s no surprise that the Cards maintain strong interest in retaining both players, neither of whom has donned the threads of another MLB franchise. But it’s equally predictable to learn that, per Saxon, the club is letting the market develop rather than rushing to re-ink Molina and Wainwright.
The Cardinals’ payroll predicament left it unlikely to jump to meet the demands of Molina, who’s said to be hoping for a multi-year deal while “seeking at least a one-year, $10 million deal with a 2022 option.” That’d eat up a big chunk of the available spending for the club, though president of baseball operations John Mozeliak did make clear that he’d pursue an alternative backstop if Yadi heads elsewhere.
In the case of Molina, Saxon writes that early talks didn’t gain much traction. Molina’s camp viewed an initial offer from the Cards as an attempt to lowball the veteran.
Wainwright doesn’t seem to have held many substantial discussions at all, with the Cardinals or other organizations. He says that he has yet to receive any firm numbers from suitors. Wainwright’s contract situation is at least more straightforward than that of Molina, as he could slot into just about any rotation and is said to be seeking only a single-season contract.
Jesus just give him the $10m deal with the option. Still making half what he did last year.
I don’t want to overstate this stuff but if you’re going to cheap out over the heart of the team and the face of the franchise you’re going to alienate the whole effing team.
@baseball, I totally agree.
Im a Braves fan but I know not signing Yadi would be like the braves not signing Chipper or Freddie No brainer
How well has the Cardinals pitching staff performed with out Molina when hes been injured vs with him? They’d be ignoring the numbers if they don’t resign him. I don’t really like them allowing the market to develop they did this with Pujols and Beltran. While the club “might” be fine without either player I’m sure Cardinals nation wants to see these two retire career Cardinals. I really hope they get it figured out
Letting the Pujols market develop was one of the smartest things the Cards have ever done.
@Cam, I keep trying to figure out if this is a sarcastic comment or not, but I think you are being serious . . . and I could not agree more. You can’t just overpay for homegrown talent because they are YOUR players. There is a point where it makes sense and then there’s a point where it becomes irresponsible. I’ve often wondered if Pinole really wanted to resign with St. Louis but then was somewhat trapped when the Cardinals called his bluff.
i like al conin
Eh. It’s business. Sure he’d be missed the 1st month but you know how this goes, life goes on. Especially with an in-house replacement if necessary.
The Cardinals are a smart organization. Fans shouldn’t want them to become the way the Cubs have operated since at least the 60’s. Cave in to Cubs fans demands and keep resigning the fan favorite players over and over until those players are washed up and have no value. That is still going on.
You’re correct. At least up to about a decade or more ago. Back then the Cards built teams to be World Series caliber teams. Now their philosophies are just to build teams that can compete and insure they keep their string of plus .500 seasons records intact. Not to win or contend for any more World Series titles.
@baseballpun Will Jesus be having some input in this matter?
Only if Harry Carey puts in a good word or two like…Holy Cow!
You guys know that the Cardinals are only half of the deal. Yadi has to want to come back. If he truly wants to win another ring then staying in St Louis is prolly not the top team on his list. The Cardinals are sure to compete for the division championship but not a real World Series contender. That’s a couple years away. If Yadi really wants another ring the Yankees, Padres, and White Sox are better landing spots
stan lee the manly
White Sox will never be on his list because he’s not going to sign somewhere to be a backup, he’s said that too many times to count. Yankees are a fairly weak fit as well unless they commit to moving on (at least temporarily) from Sanchez because their DH spot is already filled.
I’m not against just paying him that either but Molina has to realize that the cardinals overpaid him the last three years…I think Molina should take that into account
Agreed. Be grateful and do a team friendly deal and get yourself into another World Series.
Yadi needs to give some too. He’s not the player he once was even if his ego thinks he is. I would prefer the Cardinals let him walk if signing him means hurting the teams success by preventing those funds from going to a player you could help more offensively. Waino has about the right idea with the one year deal.
This reminds me of 1990 when they let a lot of their good 80s players walk. McGee, Coleman Pendleton etc… The cards of the early 90s weren’t exactly the golden years.
The Cards’ faithful be very unhappy if either Wainwright or Yadi dons any other uni next year than Cardinal Red.
I couldn’t imagine these guys in any other uni, even as a Giants fan
All I want for Christmas is Dewitt to sell the team.
You might change your tune on that when you realize that it is Stan kroenke’s dream to own the team.
He’d want to move them to Los Angeles! LoL
Even if Stan Kroenke buys the team the Cardinals wouldn’t be going anywhere… They get 3 million in attendance year in and year out. It would be hard to get that in the other avalible markets…
The Rams had more people in the seats in St Louis than the Rams get in LA And a half a billion dollars of St Louis tax money ready to go to building a new outdoor football stadium.
Agree. It would be foolish to move the cardinals.
stan lee the manly
This is not an option lol. There’s zero scenarios where Kroenke would get the approval from either DeWitt or the rest of the owners/MLB to buy the team, he’s already screwed St. Louis once and there’s no way MLB would chance ruining one of the majors most loyal cashcow markets
Man that’s be awesome! To an ownership who appreciates this great fan base
“Mozeliak did make clear that he’d pursue an alternative backstop if Yadi heads elsewhere.“
Well, I guess he would have to. Lol!
Knizner for 157.
I say he digs his heels in and names Yadi his starting catcher even if he signs with a different team.
Up the offer with some deferred money in there and I think it gets done.
Molina trying to beat Gabby Street’s record. It’s really gonna sting him when he looks in the mirror and finally realizes it’s over. I suspect they wait him out, sign him up for one more likely injury addled season and opposing teams give him rocking chairs for the farewell tour.
If management felt that poorly of Yadis skills they should have offered him a deal as catching coach
Billy smith…… Yeah I called you billy. Something you probably ain’t heard since you were twelve “billlllly….. it’s dinner time”. Someone should urinate in your Cheerios for taking such a dig. You imbecile!
Dunno how you can knock a guy who just wants to play the game. He’s as motivated as ever and if he’s not blocking any young talent I’m not sure why you would have such vitriol towards the guy. Who knows, maybe Yadi urinated in your cereal. Maybe that’s what this is about.
Just sign the 10mil deal. Not like the Cards are going to sign anyone big or do a huge trade. Sign them to let them retire as Cardinals and give your fanbase and the players what they deserve. Cards trying to cheap their way out of everything
If ‘all’ Molina wants is a 1/$10M deal with an option year the Cardinals should just give it to him. Is it possible that’s a slight overpay? Yes… but it isn’t a HUGE overpay by any means. I mean what do they want to sign him for $7-$8M? Why risk insulting him (and potentially alienating his teammates that respect him beyond belief) over a couple million bucks? And it’s not like he can’t play at all… he still put up average offensive numbers while continuing his stellar defense and spectacular game management skills last season… so worst case scenario you pay a guy a couple million $ more than he’s worth… but you keep the mutual respect between him, the rest of the team and the front office in tact. I really don’t see any other scenario working out for the Cardinals… unless they REALLY are wanting/ready to move on from him… but at this point — that seems like an incredibly risky move that could backfire massively with other players/their entire roster. Wainright is probably a little more straightforward. He probably won’t have too many offers elsewhere (though nothing against him — he’s still a very good pitcher) but my guess is he’ll sign with the Cardinals for whatever they offer him (as long as it’s not overly insulting). But with Yadi… if he wants his deal to show him “respect” at this point… just give it to him. It’s not like he’s asking for $25M/year or something completely absurd.
As someone that had to see Buehrle pitch somewhere else for no good reason, I agree.
“He better stay out of White Sox business.” Don’t forget HOF Frank Thomas. White Sox wouldn’t resign him for his age 38 season.
Except his bat has been almost 20% below league average for two years and his defense these days is more average than stellar. Love the guy and he’s been huge as a Cardinal but he’s not 2011-2013 Yadi any more.
2019: Overall wRC+ for catchers was 85, Yadier Molina was 87 (113 games)
2020: Overall wRC+ for catchers was 90, Yadier Molina was 82 (42 games)
Overall league average is a bit unfair when rating a catcher since the majority of their value comes from defense. I agree with you that he shouldn’t be paid based on 2011-2013 performance, but he’s about league average for a catcher on defense and offense at this point. He’s still probably worth a couple million more to the Cardinals than any other team.
Cubs should sign Wainwright. They need a SP and it would anger Cardinal fans. Win/win.
As a lifelong MLB fan since the early 1960’s, I would prefer to see both Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina remain in St. Louis and finish their careers where it all began. It’s very uncommon in the age of free agency to see a player with long careers stay in one location for the duration. The fact that the Cardinals have two such players, who have also been teammates for 15 seasons, is even more remarkable.
That said, and as a White Sox fan, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that either or both could wind up finishing their careers on the southside of Chicago. A former teammate of both players, SP Lance Lynn, was just acquired by the White Sox from the Texas Rangers. The White Sox were seeking a veteran TOR to help elevate them from postseason contenders to World Series champions and Lynn fit the bill.
The ChiSox are also looking for an additional veteran SP to make that World Series dream more of a reality, one who would be amenable to a short term deal while the organization finalizes the development of some of their elite young power arms who lack experience. Wainwright is looking for a one year deal and fits their criteria perfectly.
The White Sox also figure to be in the market for a veteran catcher to help share the load with 32-year old starter Yasmani Grandal with the imminent departure of James McCann as a free agent. McCann is 30 and is seeking a full time starting gig after being an important piece for the White Sox the past two seasons as they transitioned from rebuilders to contenders. Like Wainwright, 38-year old Molina would be a perfect fit for the White Sox as a veteran who can split the catching load on a short term contract, one that figures to be substantially less than what a more youthful McCann will earn this winter.
Ironically, Lynn, Wainwright and Molina also share another thing in common. All three debuted in St. Louis under new White Sox manager Tony La Russa. Wainwright and Molina were teammates under La Russa for their World Series championship in 2006. Lynn and Molina were also contributors to the Cardinals 2011 World Series victory over the Rangers which also happened to be La Russa’s final year managing until he came out of retirement in accepting the White Sox job with the ‘help’ of long time friend, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Wainwright missed out on the 2011 championship season after tearing his UCL in spring training. Perhaps all three can share one additional World Series ring along with La Russa in 2021 with the White Sox.
Molina’s not signing anywhere where he’s not the clear-cut starter. He may no longer be able to play as much as he usually does, but there’s no way he leaves St. Louis (where he would indeed still be the starter) by accepting a demotion to a time share or backup role.
I’d wager that Yadier Molina signs with whatever team offers the most money and has the best chance to win a championship in 2021. It seems to me the White Sox fit that criteria better than most, including the Cardinals.
Molina might also be motivated by the chance of a reunion with former Cardinal manager Tony La Russa with whom he won two World Series titles. He would also have an opportunity to catch Lance Lynn again in 2021 and perhaps even Adam Wainwright if all 3 were together in Chicago. In that scenario, I’d bet La Russa would have Molina as the primary catcher for both Lynn and Wainwright with Yasmani Grandal behind the plate for Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and whoever the #5 starter is, likely Dylan Cease. That’s a fairly even split of work for a demanding position like catcher and might be even more appropriate for two that are 32 and 38-years old who also happen to have a ton of mileage on them as starting backstops throughout most of their careers.
4-5 mil for Yadi to timeshare with Grandal would be great, but honestly Cards would at least do that in its very winnable NLC.
stan lee the manly
The money is clearly important to him, but I would bet near everything I own that starting is higher on that list, both because of his comments and how fiercely competitive he is. The only way he goes to the White Sox is if no other team is willing to let him take the majority of starts, and St. Louis will be willing to.
@ aaron – Aaron, I always enjoy your considered constructive comments. Also noted that you came close to “winning it all” with last years free agent contest. You clearly know your stuff.
I am though a bit aloof about the idea that a perfect storm might occur with Molina, Wainwright and La Russa all lining up at CWS. I just don’t see CWS (or any team for that matter) paying close to $30 million for a Grandal/Molina catcher platoon. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the benefit, just not $30 million worth.
If I’m the CWS I’d be punting at Sonny Gray (seemingly, ridiculously available) for the same money (plus prospects) as Molina. Can you explain your thinking because – genuinely – it’s sure to be a decent critique?
I agree. Molina won’t sign anywhere he is not the clear cut starter.
Perhaps the Cards FO isn’t waiting in a negative way. Maybe they are letting Yadi and Waino see if the market is better than the Cards initial offers and then the Cards will match it.
Why would either want to go. The money won’t be a huge difference. If Father Time catches up in 2021 no other franchise will be forgiving. You’ve made it this far with one organization(I know waino was drafted by the Braves)why on earth would you change now? I LOVE Molina but 10 mil plus an option for a guy who is a below average hitter, not quite the defensive catcher he once was, etc to me does not equate. Leadership means something but that’s a lot. Its not like the Cardinals haven’t paid him for his prime. Both sides can and I think they will come to an agreement. I’ll still love the guy if he leaves but it’ll never be the same. Wainwright too. Good for him for even being in the discussion but when the wheels come off it’s best it happen in a Cardinals uniform when he’s earned that right
Nice comment & I’m with you. I love watching Wainwright pitch with Molina behind the plate. Seemingly no signals, no effing around, no nonsense. Pitcher nods, catcher nods & sets up, pitcher pitches. Maybe the catcher nods first. I was gutted this years London series was (understandably) called off because I wanted – yearned – to watch those two work a game.
It’d be so weird to see either of them in another teams uniform. I mean, imagine Johnny Bench or Stan Musial playing their last season in Montreal? It’s comparable…
They could afford both if only fans would’ve packed the park in years past…
I’m picking up on a little sarcasm @Carpenter29
I like the idea that the FO will match any other offers they may receive so they feel valued and can finish where they started
DeWitt and Mozeliak are turning them into a clownshow.
Mo has been a clown show for years.
Yep it is
Good grief they are aging players who the Cardinals have payed a ton of money to. Time to move on.
Have to agree. Having these guys on the roster isn’t gonna make or break the team. If STL can’t conjure up younger players to replace these near 40-year-olds, it may be time to re-think their roster-building philosophy from the ground up.
if st louis is in it to win it, let em go
it it’s just a gesture for the fans
that don’t care about winning
sign em up
Thank you for the haiku
Christ on a CORNDOG MOZELIAK… him $10M!!! Hell, give him $12M or you WONT have any fans in Busch next year if it’s back to that! Stop being an ASSHAT!
Of course there will be fans at Busch next year, and plenty of them! Cardinals baseball is an institution in St. Louis. It’s bigger than Yadi and Waino and Pujols and Ozzie and Brock and Gibson and Stan and Red. Opening Day is a city-wide holiday in St. Louis. To say fans won’t show up because they won’t overpay for a 38 year old catcher is beyond naive. If I’m the Cardinals, I’m waiting ‘til the last possible minute to make my final offer to Yadi because I know the Cardinals are the ONLY team in baseball that can give him what he really wants. Sure, he could make a few million dollars extra with another team, but the best case scenario is he’s in a time share. And if he doesn’t hit, he’s gonna end up being a backup and/or personal catcher for someone. Absolutely NOBODY but the Cardinals will be willing to run him out there day in and day out. Not to mention, if he leaves, he won’t have an entire city of fans who, quite literally, worship the ground he walks on. Who give him the benefit of the doubt in every situation. In any other city, if he hits .176 for the first 3 weeks of the season, they’ll be all over him. If the same thing happens in St. Louis, he’ll still be adored. Right now, I think Yadi needs the Cardinals much more than the Cardinals need him.
I agree with you. The Cardinals had to trade off a catcher once to keep him happy and here we have the same problem again.
Your organization only churns out so many catchers!
Had a fly on the wall position with the Padres in 98-00. Tony Gwynn was nearing retirement but the true gentleman he was, even in a contract year, signed autographs for some several hundred Pads staffers at Qualcomm. He addressed us saying he wasn’t sure saying he’d be with the team the following year and you could tell it really bothered him. Again being such a class act he re-upped with my hometown Pads for undermarket value. He truly was a San Diego icon and jewel and couldn’t be happier that he ended his career with the same team he started with.
All that said, I think the Cards are a class act organization. While selfishly I’d love to see Molina and Wainright in Pads duds the Cards need to do right by the both of them and let the finish their careers in St. Louis. Molina and Wainright are just as important to the fabric of the Cards organization and city as Tony Gwynn was to the Padres and the City of San Diego.
Molina is seeking a 2 year guarantee. The option might be a sticking point.
Wainwright might be seeking a 1 year deal but if (and I question this) if they’ve got an interest in someone like Joc Pederson they’ll likely have to trim from somewhere. Add to that they may have some internal options to go to for a starter. It would be a shame to lose Waino regardless but I can see this happening.
The fact that the Cards consider 10M with an option something they have to think about, means that they’re more than willing to let him walk away.
I think the Padres will sign him.
That’s kind of a lot for a mediocre catcher, especially at an age where he’ll probably decline every year. They alreasy gave Yadi the big, end of career, loyalty contract. Just because he’s still going doesn’t mean the organization owes him another over-priced contract.
exactly, they have already paid the man his money the last three years
In a non-pandemic year, I’m sure the Cards would put forth much more effort to keep these two. It’s all about the revenue lost last year, and the financial adjustments being made because of it.
This is kind of disappointing.
Haven’t these guys already made a ton of money?
Let’s get real here!!! It’s embarrassing to see the Cardinals offered an insulting contract to Molina!!!! Especially since they’ve already issued a 2 year $36 million contract to a defensive and now offensive liability in Matt Carpenter! Yadi is still productive and is still an above average defensive, clutch and above average contact hitter!!! Plus there is no one better in handling a pitching staff!!!
If anyone deserves a high severances pay 2 year contract to remain in a Cardinal uniform for his entire career it’s Yadi Molina.
Obviously Mozeliak will be pond scum additions this year. As usual. Why not reward the man that needs to be rewarded and Give Yadi the contract he wants!!!!!
stan lee the manly
This is a weird take. On one hand you bash the Cardinals for giving a loyalty contract to an aging but still (at the time) highly productive Matt Carpenter, then you bash them for NOT doing the same thing with Molina. Both are lifelong Cardinals. Both have strengths on one side of the ball and limitations on the other (we are talking 2018 Marp who was a serious MVP candidate, not current Marp). Both are old. Granted Molina will be a HOF and Marp could only reach the hall of very good, but it’s a very comparable situation.
Stan lee——- You are exactly right about your evaluation of my post. I can’t disagree with you at all. However, going on 3 years ago—Carp hit a lot of homeruns, but that was about it. Yet—- because of his glory days, the Cardinals granted an oft injured and impaired Carpenter, a 2 year contract for $18 million a year. Thus— insuring he was both paid for his past heroics and to also insure he’d finish his professional career in the only uniform he’d ever worn. The St. Louis Cardinals uniform.
Everybody knows there is no overall comparison between Matt Carpenter’s career and Yadier Molina’s career. Molina’s career has been both defensively and clutch hitting offensively overall superior to
that of Matt Carpenter’s career. The Cardinals rewarded Carpenter by throwing away 2 years and $36 million as compensation. So the Cardinals set the standards themselves for a Cardinal star player to be granted an absurd final 2 yr. contract to insure he finishes his career in that Cardinal uniform.
Tell me why it’s not fair for Molina to ask for the same deal Matt Carpenter got for his final contract??? Plus— Molina is still an asset not a liability.
I do honestly think—- If Yadier Molina saw his future stats fall to where he was a liability such as Carp is this coming season, Molina would take the Mark McGwire road. McGwire, when he retired, had another $30 million dollars coming to him as provided in his contract. Yet McGwire left that on the table for the Cardinals to use elsewhere after his .196 average showed he was becoming a liability as a player and financially to the Cardinals. I have no doubt that Molina would do the same!!!
I feel pretty good about Waino either coming back or being in the broadcast booth. With Yadi, I understand the draw to be paid but as others have stated, where else could he be loved like he is by Cards’ nation?
how much are intangibles worth?
It’s been a week since this post and still no news on Molina or Wainwright! I really hope that they come back but seriously in these times that the country is going three how hard can it be to get the two inked?