Free-agent catcher Yadier Molina is expected to re-sign with the Cardinals at the conclusion of the Caribbean Series on Feb. 6, perhaps before then, Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweets. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch previously reported Molina was expected to stay with the club.
What was previously a silent offseason for the Cardinals has turned into an active one, as they re-signed right-hander Adam Wainwright on Friday and have been connected to Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado in trade rumors. Like Wainwright, Molina is one of the most accomplished players in Cardinals history.
Molina has spent his entire career with the St. Louis organization since it used a fourth-round pick on him in 2000, but there was some doubt about the nine-time All-Star’s future earlier this winter. The 38-year-old garnered interest from other teams (including the Yankees, Mets, Padres and Angels) and even mentioned retirement as a possibility. But it appears Molina will instead remain with the Cardinals for the 18th year in a row.
While Molina isn’t the high-end producer he was during his heyday, he remains a useful starting catcher even at this late stage of his career. His .262/.303/.359 line in 156 plate appearances last season was good for an 82 wRC+, which fell short of the league-average mark of 90 wRC+ but was still fairly respectable for the position. Behind the plate, Molina threw out a whopping 45 percent of would-be base thieves (the average mark was 24 percent) and, per Statcast, finished in the league’s 73rd percentile as a pitch framer. He’s also one of the most respected leaders in the game, making him all the more valuable to the Cardinals.
Assuming he does finalize a deal with St. Louis, Molina should comprise the team’s top two catchers alongside Andrew Knizner in 2021. The Cardinals had veteran Matt Wieters on their roster last season, and he collected 41 PA (Knizner had 17), but he’s now a free agent.