ST. LOUIS — If I could speak bluntly, the St. Louis Cardinals can't afford to lose Yadier Molina right now.
Sometimes, the fancy intro should just be left on the cutting room floor. The fact is the Cardinals and Molina are going to be sitting down here real soon to discuss the final contract of his career. Yes, this is the last one. He will be 40 years old when this one is done, which will be time to take the pads and face mask off for good.
Now, I have already thrown every stat and piece of baseball literature at you when it comes to Molina, his value and the team. Catchers don't have the concrete reliable sabermetrics that other position players do. I am not here to discuss Hall of Fame credentials. No matter what the coldest Yadi cynic thinks, he's getting in.
In an article published at MLB Trade Rumors, Molina’s agent, Melvin Roman told Jon Heyman and Tony Gwynn Jr. that his client is seeking a two year deal to polish off a playing career that will reach 19 years of service. A career that the Cardinals need to keep intact.
Yes, it means something to make this happen. Do you really think the Cardinals will take the money not used on Molina and go sign a big bat? If you answered yes to that question, find a good brick wall and gently run into it. Get back up and I can ask the question again. The levee officially broke this year in Major League Baseball. Finances went down, owners couldn't buy an extra yacht, and times are tough according to the suits. It doesn't matter if you believe them or not; they control the money and where it goes.
In all likelihood, Molina is staying. The Cardinals won't mess this up. They let Albert Pujols walk over a mutual disagreement on funds, but all Molina is asking for is two years. It will take him farther than Pujols' deal in Los Angeles, but it's fitting. He stayed and deserves the lifelong Cardinal treatment.
This is where you tell me Andrew Knizner needs to play, but I will remind you he is only 25 and not 35 years old. There's still time, and I truly hope Mike Shildt draws up a good split between the two catchers in 2021. It makes too much sense not to try, and gives the Cardinals some control. The team should sign Molina, but he shouldn't play more than 130 games in a season. Give Knizner 32 starts next season, and then you can double it in 2022. Molina will bark, but even he will notice age isn't just a number when you catch for two decades.
But if the Cardinals want to be bold, they can trade Knizner. I can't find a crystal ball telling me he will be a star. One that says he will go down as one of the greatest catchers of all time. They traded Carson Kelly for Paul Goldschmidt, and that's working out just fine. Ivan Herrera isn't too far away. Work out a split or ship out some talent for a bat of some kind.
The reality is this team is going to be a pitching-powered team for a few years. Believe it and accept it. They aren't going after Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor (as good as that even sounds). John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt Jr. are going to batten down the hatches here, and that should include bringing back Molina and Adam Wainwright. If you disagree with the latter, name a better and more affordable starting pitcher on the market? Go ahead and try.
So, if the team is going to be thriving on arms and not bats, they need to keep the zen master around. He keeps the order in the bullpen. It's been that way for 17 years. He nurtures, guides, and empowers the pitching staff. He was also one of the few bats to actually hit in the postseason this fall, going 6-13. He's a lifetime .280 postseason hitter, and that's not going to suddenly stop. Molina continues to show up to spring training in terrific shape, which allows him to catch over 2,000 career games. That's more important than going with a young player who you have little clue if they can succeed and provide the same impact.
The Cardinals may not want to spend money this offseason, but they can't afford to mess around with Molina's legacy. They took their big shots at David Price and Giancarlo Stanton, but were content in the outfield (LAUGHING EMOJI!) to not even take a look at Bryce Harper. Yes, they have the money. If you want to win big, one team must spend. Unless you are run impeccably like the Tampa Bay Rays, it's the other side of the coin and that's the Los Angeles Dodgers. As my Cards pal John Rabe would say, they were stacked and then thought to themselves, we should go out and get Mookie Betts!
The Cardinals won't be doing that anytime soon, so sign Molina/Waino and try to grind it out until the trade deadline. It is what it is at this point.
Yadier Molina will go down as one of the best to ever play his position. Sure, there are good arguments that suggest letting him leave is the right plan. I simply disagree. He needs to stay. That's it.