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The Cardinals and Yadier Molina finalize their deal

Mar 1, 2012, 2:53 PM EDT

yadier molina getty Getty Images

Via Ken Rosenthal and Derek Goold, we learn the final details of the Yadier Molina deal:

  • Five years, $75 million
  • The deal begins in 2013, and there is a mutual option for 2018 at $15 million
  • There is no deferred money
  • There is a no-trade clause

Like we’ve said before: wow, that’s rich for a catcher in his 30s.  Brian McCann and Miguel Montero likely approve.

  1. manifunk - Mar 1, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Hahahahahaha what a comedic overpay. AND an NTC? HI-larious

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 1, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      I wouldn’t call it comedic, but I wouldn’t pay Yadier $15M annually either.

      • okwhitefalcon - Mar 1, 2012 at 3:49 PM

        Extinuating circustances with depth, no transitional options, organizational continuity, PR,
        fanbase distrust etc would have made it comedic if they didn’t put their best offer on the table now instead of later.

        Why create payroll flexibilty for now and years to come with a huge non sign and not use that flexibilty to their benefit?

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:10 PM

        I just don’t see Yadier playing $75 million worth of baseball. That’s all.

      • okwhitefalcon - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:40 PM

        It’s not about “worth” – it’s about value and how the organization defines it.

        From John Mozeliak:

        ““It was a difficult market to evaluate,” Mozeliak said. “(It tends to be) more offense-oriented than the hardware he has received. … The intangibles that really go into being a catcher. Talk to our pitchers, and they’re thrilled that this is done. I spoke to Mike Matheny and he thought this was a no-brainer.”

      • blueintown - Mar 1, 2012 at 5:04 PM

        Um, that’s what “worth” is.

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  2. okwhitefalcon - Mar 1, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Done and done.

    Time to see if Wainwright’s good as new and plan the strategy – it’s never too soon.

  3. stex52 - Mar 1, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Glad it’s done. That takes a big worry off of the end of the season. Of course you are missing out on how hard he might have played because it was a free agent year. But I will give Molina more credit than that.

    I would have liked to see it without a no-trade clause, but that is probably unrealistic. If his performance falls to the point that they want to trade him, they can’t do it at that price anyway.

    • umrguy42 - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:49 PM

      I don’t recall how long Yadi’s been with the organization, but by the time you’d look to trade him (presumably near the end) he’d’ve triggered the automatic NT protection from being a 10/5 man anyway.

      • umrguy42 - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:52 PM

        EDIT FUNCTION! don’t recall how long Yadi’s *already* been.

        From the Post-Dispatch article, he *will* reach 10/5 during the contract. (If somebody or other’s math from a previous post was right, it’d be about year 2 or 3 at the latest, I think.)

      • veistran - Mar 2, 2012 at 2:35 AM

        His 10/5 would trigger in June of 2014, so year two of the extension.

  4. brokea$$lovesmesomeme - Mar 1, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Now that he’s got some cash, whats say we get rid of that prison tat on his neck

  5. 5thbase - Mar 1, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Seems awfully rich, but the guy is irreplaceable. He’s the whole package with his physical abilities and his mental presence. I just wonder what he’s going to look like at the end of the contract.

    • manifunk - Mar 1, 2012 at 3:46 PM

      Absolutely. Any time you can lock up a 29 year old catcher with an 88 career OPS+ for 5 more years at $15mil a pop you have to make that deal.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Mar 1, 2012 at 3:57 PM

        There’s more to being a catcher than hitting. There’s, you know, catching the ball. Which he is one of the best at. Picking runners off base. Throwing out baserunners. Playing Gold Glove defense. The willingness to play everyday. Pitchers love throwing to him.

        Yeah, lets pick one number and evauate him on that. Good analysis.

      • manifunk - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:01 PM

        Sure, catching is incredibly important, and Yadi’s defense is exemplary. The problem is that $15mil is a LOT of money to throw at a guy whose best (only?) attribute is receiving the ball when his bat is mediocre.

      • forsch31 - Mar 1, 2012 at 6:43 PM

        There’s also that little matter of handling a pitching staff and running the game. Molina is regarded as one of the best in the game, along with his regular highly regarded defense. Also, the defensive importance of catchers tends to be downplayed by sabermetrics. Fangraphs has a great article about Molina, defensive stats, WAR, and catcher aging:

        Another thing to remember is that in the coming decade, the Cardinals are focusing on filling their rotation with good to ace-potential prospects like Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Lance Lynn, and others. They don’t have a starting catching prospect in the system, outside of possibly Adam Ehrlich, who just has started his pro career. I wouldn’t be surprised if that the Cardinals were willing to risk overpaying the back end of the contract (when Molina will be 35) to ensure they had Molina mentoring them if and when they arrived rather than trying to buy one of the free agent market.

        Finally, my feeling is that even before Molina’s new contract, the market on catching was beginning to shift.

      • jwbiii - Mar 2, 2012 at 1:25 AM

        Do you have any evidence which shows that Yadier Molina is particularly good with working with young pitchers? If so, please show.

      • jwbiii - Mar 2, 2012 at 1:07 PM

        M’kay, thumbs downers. Here’s Yadier Molina versus other Cardinals catchers, controlled for pitchers and season, for pitchers 25 and under over the course of his career:

        4.27 598.0 284 591 74 16 14 223 388 4.62 -13.3 Yadier Molina
        4.58 598.0 304 659 72 36 10 248 406 4.66 7.0 Team Others

        I apologize for the formatting, but it’s a standard pitching line with FIP and the linear weights of SB/CS tacked on at the end. The first thing you notice is that pitchers have given up 20 fewer runs with Molina catching. That’s pretty darn good. The second thing is the linear weight value of his control of the running game is worth. . . 20 runs. So the sum value of all the other things he does catching, including mentoring, is worth 0 runs as compared to his teammates. And who are these other catchers be, who as a group, are every bit as good as mentoring young pitchers? The numbers are the number of matched innings.

        Gary Bennett 211 Unemployed
        Jason LaRue 120 Unemployed
        Mike Matheny 115 Retired, StL mgr
        Kelly Stinnett 34 Retired*
        Gerald Laird 31 Det backup C
        Tony Cruz 27 StL backup C?
        Einar Diaz 14 Retired
        Mike Mahoney 14 Retired
        Matt Pagnozzi 10 Columbus backup C
        Bryan Anderson 7 StL backup C?
        Mike Rose 3 Unemployed; considering a Black Uhuru reunion
        Mark Johnson 2 Unemployed
        *Stinnett managed Arizona’s AZL team last season. Can’t find him now. In other Arizona news, Carlos Gomez, aka ChadBradfordWannaBe (did he ever post here?), has been promoted to director of international scouting. Good on ya, Carlos!

        And the pitchers? The biggest contributors are:

        – Adam Wainwright. Acquired from Atlanta in the J.D. Drew trade. If you can acquire a quality pitcher like Wainwright every few years, you’re going to have an ass kicking pitching staff, no question about it. Wainwright was a BA top 100 prospect four times before the Cardinals acquired him, so I’m not sure that he required a whole lot of mentoring.

        – Anthony Reyes. Cardinal farm product. Once considered a prospect, traded for a fringy minor league relief non-prospect. Luis Perdomo is still a fringy reliever with 60 not so good MLB innings on his resume, now on a minor league deal with Minnesota, his sixth organization. San Francisco took Perdomo in the Rule 5 draft, so the Cardinals turned Reyes into $50,000.

        – Jason Marquis. Also acquired from Atlanta in the J.D. Drew trade. Had a good year with the Cardinals and then a meh one and then a bad one and was let go in free agency. While he was only 25 when the Cardinals acquired him, he had already pitched over 300 innings with the Braves, so not much mentoring required.

        Doesn’t look so positive, does it?

  6. thefalcon123 - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Seems like they overpayed to me. I can’t imagine Molina getting that much on the open market. That being said, I’m fine with it. It won’t cripple the team and Molina’s seem to age pretty well. He’s an above average hitter for his position (I think last year was an outlier, but would be thrilled if it wasn’t!) and one of the elite defenders in the game. I look forward to 5 more years of him, his arm gunning down baserunners and hit cement feet plodding slowly around the bases.

  7. okwhitefalcon - Mar 1, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    For the folks who don’t see this as a “no brainer” from an organizational point of view, this from Derrick Goold of the STL Post Dispatch:

    “Less than 13 months after John Mozeliak sat in the same room at Roger Dean Stadium to explain why the team couldn’t come to an agreement with first baseman Albert Pujols, the general manager returned Thursday to announce a long-term arrangement with another franchise fixture.

    The Cardinals finalized a five-year extension with Gold Glove-winning catcher Yadier Molina today and announced the deal this afternoon. The contract will guarantee Molina $75 million over the five seasons from 2013 to 2017. It includes a mutual option for 2018 and other guarantees that could raise the value to $88 million, a source with knowledge of the deal confirmed to the Post-Dispatch.

    “I grew up here,” Molina said at the press conference to announce the deal. “It was my first choice to stay here, and I’m glad we did it.”

    Molina will turn 35 in the middle of the final guaranteed year of the contract.

    Mozeliak said momentum for the deal developed when Molina’s agent Melvin Roman visited Roger Dean Stadium in the middle of last month. The trick both sides had was determining the market for a defensive-oriented catcher who is widely regarded as the best defensive player at his position. Many other high-dollar catchers are paid based on the offense they produce.

    “It was a difficult market to evaluate,” Mozeliak said. “(It tends to be) more offense-oriented than the hardware he has received. … The intangibles that really go into being a catcher. Talk to our pitchers, and they’re thrilled that this is done. I spoke to Mike Matheny and he thought this was a no-brainer.”

    Molina’s current contract, which pays him $7 million for the 2012 season, remains in place. His new deal’s $15 million annual average guaranteed value over five years makes him the second-highest paid catcher in history, behind only Minnesota’s Joe Mauer based on AAV.

    The mutual option for 2018 includes buyout language.

    The contract also includes a no-trade clause, though Molina’s rights to refuse a trade will trigger when he reaches 10 years in the majors and five consecutive with the Cardinals.

    Roman said that Molina did not want discussions to drag into the season. Several weeks ago it appeared that there was a gulf between their two goals — one that shrank when they met face to face here in Jupiter.

    “One day I was pessimistic. The other day I was optimistic,” Roman said. “Nobody could (guess) what happens if he becomes a free agent. That was not going to be a great outcome. That was going to be more difficult for both sides.”

    Molina is the first Cardinal to have a guaranteed contract through the 2017 season. Matt Holliday has an option for the season on his contract, and lefty Jaime Garcia also has an option for 2017.

    “When I think about players who are willing to stay here, I really admire what Yadi was (able) to do,” Mozeliak said. “We’re in the business of retaining our best players.”

    Read more:

  8. hustleandflomax - Mar 2, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    From the outsider’s point of view, I can understand why many of you think this is a massive overpay. Personally, I would have liked to have seen him sign in the 10-12 million/yr range. But I’m cool with overpaying for a 5 year deal as opposed to a 7-8 year deal. Also, Molina’s worth to the Cards cannot be measured by mere stats, he is their Field General, he is their heart and soul. Everybody knows his value defensively, but he made some really nice strides, offensively, in 2011 that many people seem to overlook. 14 homers, 32 doubles for a guy that is known as one of the slower runners in MLB.

    I’m just saying, he’s not the same guy that hit .216 back in ’06, so looking at his career OPS+ doesn’t do him justice. Since 2008, his OPS+ is 102. He had an OPS of .907 the second half of last year, so he’s shown that he can rake and take some walks. He walks almost as much as he strikes out, he’s one of the tougher guys in the league to get out. Also, he is just now hitting his ‘prime’ years. So it’s not a stretch to say that we can probably expect him to duplicate his 2011 numbers for the next couple years, at least. From an organizational depth standpoint (meaning, there is NO depth at Catcher position), this was a signing the Cardinals HAD to get done. For the rotation as well as team makeup. Losing Pujols was a huge blow, losing Pujols AND Molina would have devastated the Cardinals franchise for the next couple years.

  9. cintiphil - Mar 2, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    We were kind of hoping that the cards would lose both Albert and Molina, but one out of two isn’t bad. Still, if I were the birds GM, I would have paid him to keep the team together. Lets face it, if we had a young Bench back, the Reds pitching staff and the team leadership would be much improved. I think it would double the Reds chances this year. As much as the Cinti fans don’t like him, Molina is the team leader for the cards.

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