The St. Louis Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina have reportedly agreed on a five-year contract extension worth $75 million. I’m just going to step back and take a deep breath because that’s a huge freaking deal.
Molina is playing for $7 million this year, and then his extension will kick in worth an average of $15 million per season. That’s insane for a catcher, but Molina has performed admirably offensively and defensively, and with Albert Pujols now gone, he is the cornerstone of St. Louis’ franchise. In fact, Pujols’ departure is probably a big reason why the Cardinals could afford this deal.
Molina is 29 and has won four-straight Gold Gloves, has been to three-straight All-Star Games and has backstopped the Cardinals to two World Series titles. In 2011 he set career highs in batting average (.305), home runs (14), doubles (32), RBI (65), hits (145), runs (55), slugging percentage (.465) and OPS (.814).
It’s a little dangerous giving a guy coming off a career year a big deal like this – since it could be an aberration – but at the same time Molina is probably the best defensive catcher in baseball and that won’t go away any time soon.
That said, catchers have a tendency to peak young and fall off quickly thanks to the strain the position puts on the body. I’m not sure how good Molina will be in five years but for right now the Cardinals had to make this deal happen. After losing Pujols they couldn’t allow Molina to hit the open market.