Yadier Molina is now open to playing for someone besides the St. Louis Cardinals after 2020, and these five teams should be in the market for the veteran catcher.
Back in January, the world was in a different place and the 2020 MLB season was on track to played as originally scheduled. Yadier Molina said at that point he wanted to play two more years after the end of his contract, which is set to expire after the 2020 season, but only in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform.
Talks on a contract extension with the Cardinals seemed to be progressing during the early part of spring training. But then the coronavirus pandemic came, and now Molina has changed his tune a little.
Here’s what he told ESPN’s Marly Rivera:
I previously said that if it wasn’t with St. Louis, that I would go home. If we were unable to come to an extension agreement, that I would retire. But the situation with this pandemic has changed everything. Right now, I’m thinking of playing two more years,” Molina told ESPN during a phone interview.
“Obviously, St. Louis is my first option. But if they don’t sign me, then I’m willing to go into free agency. This situation has changed my mentality, and all I want to do is play.
Molina has spent his entire career, since being called up in 2004, with the Cardinals. The 1,947 games has caught for them are the most with a single franchise in major league history. He has won nine Gold Gloves (third-most all-time among catchers), with nine All-Star selections and two World Series rings.
It’s hard to imagine Molina in another uniform, and he’ll turn 38 in July. But he’s now open to finishing his career elsewhere, after whatever the 2020 season winds up being. If that remains the case, and the Cardinals don’t get an extension done, these five teams should be in the mix to sign Molina next offseason.
5. New York Yankees
The Yankees have a young catcher in Gary Sanchez, with two more years of arbitration eligibility left before he can even hit free agency. But he has also battled injuries the last couple years, and he’s below par as a defensive player behind the plate (which might be kind).
A part-time role would suit Molina nicely as he goes into his age-39 and age-40 seasons for another team, hypothetically anyway. Hitting in Yankee Stadium and some of the other hitter-friendly parks in the AL East would also be good, as Molina still has at little thump in his bat (10 home runs, 34 extra-base hits last year).
Molina would also naturally have a positive effect on the Yankees’ pitching staff.