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Yadier Molina won’t discuss contract extension during the season

Feb 21, 2012, 9:30 PM EDT

yadi molina getty Getty Images

Yadier Molina recently indicated that he would be willing to discuss a contract extension with the Cardinals during the season, but the impending free agent is apparently going to follow the example of his friend and former teammate Albert Pujols.

Molina’s agent, Melvin Roman, told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his client plans to cut off contract talks once the regular season begins.

“Once the season starts he’s just going to concentrate on the game, play hard to win every game and try to bring another championship to the city.” Roman said. “After the season, I’m sure we would probably still discuss things.”

Roman will remain in Jupiter, Florida for the next several days and hasn’t dismissed the possibility that progress could be made prior to Opening Day, but Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has downplayed the possibility of an agreement.

Molina, who turns 30 in July, has already said that he’s not going to offer any hometown discount to the Cards and Strauss suggests that he’s likely looking for at least a five-year extension worth in excess of $10 million per season.

  1. stex52 - Feb 21, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    As I posted before, there is a good piece of news here. Molina will play his butt off for that big payday in 2012. And the Cardinals have a year to figure out what to do for their next catcher. Maybe Molina is back, but it sounds like he is staking out a hard line to me.

    • paperlions - Feb 22, 2012 at 6:53 AM

      Hopefully this one plays out differently. Pujols was overpaid by more than Molina is even looking for in total. A 5 year $50M deal (which should be the max he could get….even if owners over-step their GMs, players like Molina just aren’t that sexy), may be a one year too long or $2M/year too much….whereas Pujols’ deal is at least 3 years too long and at least $75M too much (there is no way he’ll put up 10 MVP-type years over the next decade, but he’s getting paid like he’ll do it 10 times).

      • stex52 - Feb 22, 2012 at 8:26 AM

        We’ll both hope so. A good catcher with all of the various skill sets is a very valuable anchor to a team.

      • paperlions - Feb 22, 2012 at 8:42 AM

        I left this out…the point was that overpaying Molina won’t be a handicap, and may not turn out to be an overpay at all if he can stay healthy for that long.

      • okwhitefalcon - Feb 22, 2012 at 10:40 AM


        A possible overpay in this case is hardly a crippler, especially with no one in the wings waiting to take over and premium available free agents at the position at the end of the year beyond Yadi commanding the same kind of $$.

        If Molina is really open to signing this spring (which he very well may not be, who knows?),
        get it done – it’s only going to get higher once others join in.

  2. okwhitefalcon - Feb 21, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    Derrick Goold wrote an excellent article on the subject today, hits all the angles.

    Moral of the story – this is headed down a road we’re very familiar with.

  3. dgs2012 - Feb 22, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    The Molina situation is very tricky. How much can you pay a guy who has logged close to 9,000 innings behind the plate? At some point his production value will drop–and could be rather quickly. How many catchers over 30 are big time producers–both offensively and defensively (which is what makes Yadi so good).

    He has publicly said no hometown discount will be given. I think this is a lot like the path St. Louis went down with Albert Pujols … the problem is they don’t have a guy like Lance Berkman or Allen Craig to fill in the would-be crater. The catcher position is so imperative towards a winning organization, and without one in the fold for the future, losing Yadi would be monumental.

    For more sports, google Daily Grind Sports

  4. alexandercartwright - Feb 22, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    How did Red Sox fan go through with it in dealing with a catcher that you saw do more for the team than the box score indicates & at the same time fight age concerns plus the business side of the game in Jason Varitek?

  5. randygnyc - Feb 22, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    From the article, “After the season, I’m sure we would probably still discuss things.”. Words mean everything today. Reevaluate the word, “probably” in the sentence. Why would the agent say this? Hmm.

  6. salvomania - Feb 22, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Since 1901, there have been 31 catchers total who have had at least one season from age 32-on in which they had 450 plate appearances and an OPS+ over 100 (some did it multiple times).

    Of these 31, most names are those we recognize as catchers that were great hitters over the bulk of their careers: Bill Dickey, Carlton Fisk, Elston Howard, Gabby Hartnett, Gary Carter, I-Rod, Posada, Piazza, Lance Parrish, Mickey Cochrane, Roy Campanella, etc.

    Even most of the “non-big-name-stars” on the list (Ernie Whitt, Sherm Lollar, Mike Stanley, Bill Haller) had at least a half-dozen seasons in their careers with an OPS+ over 100.

    Realistically, Yadier Molina will not be joining this list. I can see him being a decent hitter for the next couple of years, but his physique and his overall hitting history do not suggest a player that will be putting up above-average offensive seasons into his mid-30s. Yadier has had one such season (last year) and has a career OPS+ of 88. He turns 32 in July of the second season of this contract, and anyone willing to give him 5 years at big money will be regretting it by then.

    I don’t care how good a catcher’s defense is: allocating $10 million for a 90 OPS+ hitter who starts 120 games a year is not a good move, unless you’re Arte Moreno.

    • okwhitefalcon - Feb 22, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      I’m all for metrics when applicable but would never make it the sole basis for decision, value in some cases – this one included can go much deeper.

      This is from Jeff Gordon of the STL Post Dispatch, detailing why Molina’s case is more than just numbers:

      ‘The Cardinals simply must lock in Yadier Molina with a contract extension.

      He knows it, his agent Melvin Roman knows it and Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak knows it. If this leverage results in Molina collecting excessive pay for his twilight years, so be it.

      That is just the cost of doing business. It doesn’t diminish the need to keep this cornerstone player right where he is.

      Consider the factors in play:

      • With Albert Pujols off to finish his career in Southern California, fans will expect the Cardinals to buck up and keep their other key players. Had Albert stayed, budgeting would have been tight. Keeping the nucleus intact would have been difficult. But Albert is gone, so there are no excuses not to keep Molina, Adam Wainwright and other vital Cards as their contracts wind down.

      • Moving forward, this team will win (or lose) with its pitching. The organization has assembled an army of promising young pitchers. To fully exploit that apparent strength, the Cards will need to have a savvy, take-charge catcher behind the plate. Does anybody work the game better than Molina?

      • This team doesn’t have a successor in line to replace Molina. Tony Cruz appears capable of backing up, but he is a long way from being a candidate to start. The same goes for Bryan Anderson, a good hitter who is still learning to work the game. Maybe in a year the Cards will feel better about their long-term catching, but right now it appears iffy.

      • There aren’t a lot of impact catchers in this sport. When teams get one, they typically hang on to him. Replacing Molina through free agency or a trade would be difficult. This team may be able to replace much of Albert’s offense through collective effort, but how could the Cards replace all the things Molina does for the team?

      • The Molina money shouldn’t get too crazy. History works against catchers getting paid. Few have ever earned more than $10 million per year. Joe Mauer’s eight-year, $184 million contract is an anomaly in the industry, since Mauer is getting paid to hit. If the Cards can afford to give No. 4 starting pitcher Kyle Lohse upwards of $12 million per year, the team can certainly afford to make Molina one of the highest-paid catchers of all time.

      • Mozeliak paid significant money for the twilight years of Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran. Some independent analysts figure he overpaid both while trying to keep the 2012 team in the hunt. So why would he suddenly turn frugal when dealing with the Molina camp? Yadier is glad to have Furcal and Beltran on his side, but he understandably wants to get paid as well.

      • This team seems to have can’t-miss prospects at every other position, so Mozeliak will have ample opportunity to control year-to-year payroll costs. If Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Zack Cox, Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras can all perform well as young (and thus low-paid) pros, a big catching salary will be manageable.

      • Although Molina would likely fade toward the end of a four- or five-year extension, he could still offer strong leadership. His history with the various emerging pitchers would have some value, just as Chris Carpenter will have value for as long as he pitches.

      • With new manager Mike Matheny settling in at the helm, the Cards don’t need a nagging issue hanging over the team. Securing Molina would eliminate a potentially annoying storyline while giving a critical player some peace of mind.

      All these factors point toward the Cards taking care of Molina, even if the cost makes Bill DeWitt Jr. a bit uncomfortable.

      The Cards have a good thing going, even with Pujols and Tony La Russa off to other adventures. The Cards appear positioned to contend for years to come.

      So why would the organization jeopardize that by haggling with such a key player?

      Unless the Molina camp has absolutely ridiculous salary expectations, the Cards must resolve this matter before breaking camp”.

      Read more:

    • paperlions - Feb 22, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      It (allocating $10M to a defense first catcher that may start 120-130 games/year) is still a far better move than paying any relief pitcher $10M plus to pitch 65 innings and face fewer than 300 hitters all year.

  7. brockohol - Feb 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    @white falcon. I don’t like the overpay for furcal/Beltran comparrison because those are short term deals that unless both of them get hurt right away and never play a game, won’t handicap the team financially going forward. overpaying or too long of a contract for yadi could potentially handicap the payroll if were talking 5, 6, 7 years from now…which unfortunately will probably be offered to him ny someone in need of a catcher looking to drop some dime this offseason. god may also talking to yadi in his sleep like he did to Albert (according to Alberts wife Didi/Yoko). if so…he will probably tell him to go to California.

  8. brockohol - Feb 22, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    sorry, didn’t see you were quoting Jeff Gordon.

  9. okwhitefalcon - Feb 22, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    A bit of info from Cards beat writer Joe Strauss from his live chat today regarding yrs/$$ for Molina:

    “It’s a safe guess Yadi is seeking a minimum five years at more than $10 million per season.”

    Read more:

    • stlouis1baseball - Feb 22, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      When you consider the young Arms the Cardinals will have coming up (including Lance Lynn right now)…signing Yadi to a 5 year deal will go a long way to massaging those young Arms with regards to mentoring alone. Mo…sign the Man.

    • salvomania - Feb 22, 2012 at 3:53 PM

      Remember, any five-year deal doesn’t start until 2013, and Molina turns 31 that July.

      The list of good-hitting full-time catchers who are productive past age 31 is a short one….

      But I suppose if the Birds are lookingto pay for defense and “leadership,” then there is a precedent: Almost 10 years ago the Cardinals paid Mike Matheny $3.25 million and $4 million for his age 32 and 33 seasons, when he was putting up an OPS+ of 79 and 65…

  10. okwhitefalcon - Feb 22, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Another interesting question and comment from the Strauss chat, this one regarding the Pujol’s negotiation, kinda reinforces (to a degree) the necessity for the Cards to act quickly with Molina
    as opposed to their slow play with AP.

    DISCLAIMER: I realize we’re talking about 2 totally different situations but it is telling as to how timing can be a factor – hindsight indeed.

    “I was told he would have taken it. But it’s all hindsight now.
    by jstrauss 1:33 PM

    A random AP question I’ve never seen addressed – If the Cards last offer this December would’ve have been offered 2 years ago, would he have taken it or let it play out til FA?”

    Read more:

  11. doublebro - Feb 22, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    Dude looks like a lady…

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