The long-time St. Louis Cardinals catcher is drawing interest from multiple teams in free agency, including the Angels.
The Los Angeles Angels sure seem to covet St. Louis Cardinals greats.
First baseman Albert Pujols, who spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Redbirds, flocked to Anaheim in 2012 after inking a 10 year, $240 million contract with the Angels at 32 years old.
And if recent reports hold true, it’s possible that a longtime Cardinals teammate of Pujols could be joining him on the Halos.
According to MLB insider Hector Gomez, catcher Yadier Molina confirmed that the Angels are indeed demonstrating interest in acquiring the veteran backstop this winter.
Molina has spent his entire career in MLB to this point with St. Louis, having made his big-league debut in 2004. The 38-year old catcher is a nine-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove award winner and four time Platinum Glove winner.
In addition to his defensive accolades, Molina possesses solid hitting acumen for a catcher, claiming a Silver Slugger Award in 2013.
For his career, Molina bats .281 with a .333 OBP, .737 OPS and a 98 OPS+ across 16 seasons. While these stats would be roughly league average for most position players, they’re quite good for someone at his position.
Molina also has extensive postseason experience, winning two World Series championships with St. Louis in 2006 and 2011 (for what it’s worth, Pujols was on both of those teams as well).
All of these credentials would qualify the long-time Cardinal as an intriguing option for the Angels to pursue this off-season, thus correlating with the interest they’ve reportedly shown.
However, the Angels also have an extra dynamic working in their favor with regard to Molina’s recruitment: family history.
Older brothers Jose and Bengie Molina both played for the Halos during their respective careers, even overlapping at The Big A for multiple seasons. In fact, the two siblings won a World Series title together for Anaheim in 2002 with Bengie as the starting catcher that season and Jose as a backup.
Talk about family ties.
Whether or not the youngest Molina brother has considered this factor during his free agency process is unclear, but it’s a fascinating dynamic nonetheless.
The veteran backstop is also said to be aiming for a two-year deal this offseason, which would bring him to age 40 at the end of said pact.
While this request would make some teams balk, the Angels have shown a willingness to sign veteran players to longer deals in recent years, indicating that perhaps the age obstacle is feasible for Arte Moreno, new GM Perry Minasian and others in the organization to overcome.
Taking stock of the Angels’ current catcher situation, Los Angeles received a decent offensive season from starting backstop Max Stassi last season, but his career numbers suggest that repeating his 2020 success would be unlikely.
Additionally, the Angels’ pitching staff continued its struggles in 2020, combining for a 5.09 staff ERA over the shortened 60-game season.
A catcher with significant pedigree like Yadier Molina, who also has a deep background in working with pitching staffs, could play a sizable role in orchestrating a much-needed turnaround for the unit without losing a beat in the lineup.
While the 38-year old would merely be a short-term solution at the catcher position for the Angels, he appears to check multiple boxes and is likely one of the cheaper options for catchers on the market. Additionally, the Molina family has strong ties to Anaheim.
This long-time St. Louis Cardinal great could be just what the Halos need going into 2021.