Each week I will pose a question, or questions to the Arch City Sports writers. I will then compile the answers to get a complete thought process revolving around the topic(s). The first installment of Arch City Sports Judgement Zone is about the Yadier Molina contract extension.
Sean Bain: This decision is really going to come down to Yadier Molina and his representation. Is it worth chasing down an additional year or two guaranteed to leave?
An extra $16-$17 mil in guaranteed money (that some team will offer) isn’t something that can simply be overlooked. Yadi’s value cannot be measured only by today’s sabermetrics and the Cardinals know this. He’s a leader, a 2nd manager on the field, one of the best signal callers in baseball, but there will always be a struggle with quantifying what that is worth to a team.
From a defensive standpoint, Molina’s caught stealing percentage dipped below 40% last season for the first time since 2011 but it’s hard to truly put all of the blame on Molina for that decrease. The musical chairs defense and the pitching staff have a role in that as well.
If Molina leaves, I really don’t see the Cardinals front office holding a grudge and not wanting to bring him back in some capacity after his playing career is over. Five years from now, I don’t think Cardinals fans will like Molina any less if he plays for a different team to close out his career. They will welcome him back to Busch, and he will promptly become a member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.
Andy Cockerill: I’m cool with Yadi finishing his career with the Cardinals – however only on an extension that is club friendly. A lot of the Cardinals in recent memory (Rolen, Edmonds, Pujols, Holliday ) were either traded or weren’t offered another contract. It’s a tough decision to let a franchise player move on, but the Cardinals can’t get bogged down by a contract that doesn’t make financial sense.
No one truly knows how much Yadi has left defensively. Would he work as a 1B? Would he be willing to have a timeshare with Carson Kelly? I don’t think either of those choices are options for Molina. His value is at catcher and Molina doesn’t like to come out of the lineup (Matheny doesn’t like taking him out either).
I’d offer him 2 years with a club option which I believe is fair. His defense didn’t seem quite to be as high as we’re used to – however 80% of Molina is still better than most. While I haven’t forgotten him hitting .365 in the second half, I also remember the .259 first half. I hope it’s in the Cards for Molina. (not puntastic)
Mick Lite: Definitely extend Molina. Money won’t be an issue. His value to the team is priceless. Even when Carson Kelly is ready and both are healthy I think you can still work them both into the lineup often enough. Molina could continue to mentor him. Kelly is a converted third baseman…. Yadi has taken reps at first base. I think it would work itself out.
Jeremy Karp: I really like this topic. Having players spend their whole career with one team doesn’t happen much anymore, and to see it happen with Yadi would be a truly wonderful feeling, not just for STL, but for MLB in general.