Yadier Molina’s New Contract Smells of Obligation and Fan Pressure
For the past 13 years Yadier Molina has been one of the Cardinals most treasured leaders. His 8 gold gloves and reputation in the clubhouse stand alone representing Molina well. However, his age is starting to catch up to him. Plus the Cardinals have a bright young star rising up behind the plate in Carson Kelly. So, how or why would an aging catcher secure a contract worth $60 million over 3 years?
Two reasons. The first is the fact that Molina is worshiped like a god in St Louis. The second is the organization feels obligated to keep him around due to what Yadier has given the Cardinals over the past 14+ years. But, is he worth it straight up? No, not at this stage of his career.
The numbers don’t show much decline, other than his caught steeling percentage diving from 41% in 2015 to 21% in 2016. But, he has dealt with more injuries over the past couple seasons than the rest of his career. However, he is still managing to log 130+ games a season at 33 years old.
This contract extension would be a good deal for both sides if he were the only good option at catcher. But, that’s not the case. Carson Kelly is the number one rated catching prospect in baseball. He is being called the next Yadier Molina, ironically. Although highly praised for his raw power with the bat, he is number one because of his catching abilities. Long story short, scouts are already projecting multiple gold gloves.
The extension is understandable to a point. Eric Fryer is the current back up for Yadier, but he is no true backup. Carson Kelly was optioned back to Memphis triple A at the end of Spring Training. However, he was told he could take Fryer’s place in the second half of 2017. Borrowing the fact that Kelly does take over as backup, then produces at a good level, then why is Yadier making $20 million/year? Carson Kelly will probably start at least 50 times if the plan goes accordingly, so an aging Molina making a boat load just to start 110 games doesn’t make sense.