For thirteen years, Yadier Molina has been the one constant in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. From gold/platinum glove play behind the plate to clutch and timely hitting, Yadi has become one of the most beloved Cardinals in the team’s rich history. With 2017 being his last year under contract (2018 mutual option) Cardinal fans are holding their collective breath waiting to see if a deal can be reached to extend his contract. What should the Cardinals be willing to offer a legend, who in this writer’s opinion has already been fitted for a red jacket?
In 2012 Yadi signed a five-year extension worth $75 million. Molina had just won his second world series, his 4th gold glove and slashed a .305/.349/.465. This contract made him the 2nd highest paid catcher in the MLB (Joe Mauer). It was a welcome relief to Cardinal fans who just watched another beloved player, who shall remain nameless, leave to a team in California. Yadier Molina lived up to the expectations of this contract and is now an 8x Gold Glove winner and 7x All-Star. What expectations do the Cardinals have for Yadi going forward?
Current expectations should be for Yadi to catch between 120 and 130 games a year, slash .270/.330/.400 and drive in 60+ a year. Those expectations are why the contract of Russell Martin could cost the Cardinals a lot of money to extend Molina. When looking at current players in MLB, there are few catchers who can be compared to Molina. His passion, poise and pure electricity behind the plate is unrivaled by any other catcher in the league. Looking for a comparison for what Molina could fetch on the open market has led me to look at Martin’s numbers a little closer.
In 2015 Russell Martin signed a 5 yr $82 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. A pretty good amount for a player that catches around 130 games a year, drives in 70+ a year and slashes around .250/.330/.400. Those numbers look fairly similar to Yadier Molina’s numbers.
This why I estimate Yadi could easily get a 4yr $72 Million contract on the open market. I would expect negotiations to start somewhere around that dollar mark. But, how many years will Molina be seeking? That will be the biggest question of these negotiations. I get the sense that Mozeliak will not offer longer than a 4-year contract. Perhaps both parties could agree to a 5th-year mutual option like the 2012 contract.
John Mozeliak was quoted by FanRag’s John Heyman as being “open for business on extension talks.”
“Obviously Yadier’s been in the organization a long time and we’ve had a relationship going back years with Melvin (Roman, Molina’s agent),” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said, per Heyman. “And if there’s hope to do something mutually beneficial before the season, we will try to do that.”
Molina is coming off a season where he started 142 games at catcher (a career high) and slashed a .307/.360/.427, and since the all-star break has an outstanding .365 average. Yadi is continuing to find a balance of having value both on offense and defense. Looking at the energy he has while representing Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, Yadi looks like he could play another 13 years. That could open up a new line of questions about another Cardinal catcher named Carson Kelly. But, we’ll save that question for another day.
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