The Buzzkill That Is Yadi’s Extension

Yadier Molina recently let the Cards know that he was interested in an extension. My co-hort C70 already covered this here, but I wanted to give my two cents.

First let me just say that, as a fan. Yadi is my favorite Cardinal right now, and one of my all-time favorites. I can’t imagine the Cards without Yadi.

As a wannabe GM however, this looks like trouble.

Five Points.

  1. Yadi is entering his age 34 season having caught a whopping 13,000+ innings as our catcher. He has been an iron man throughout his career but has started to break down, losing time to injuries the last year or two.
  2. Players looking for an extension at this stage of their career typically want what I call a “retirement” extension. Basically, a multi-year extension that pays them for what they’ve done, not what they’re going to do. The extension is basically a “respect” extension. These type of extensions always end badly for the team.
  3. We have Carson Kelly a young catching prospect who is close to being ready. In fact, if Yadi got injured during the season, Kelly would likely be called up and given a chance to start.
  4. As mentioned above, Yadi has been an iron man. I think this is something he is proud of, and I’m not sure I see him letting Kelly play 40-50 games next year. I can see Yadi readily passing on knowledge, but I can’t see him sit, watching the kid play, then giving Kelly pointers. Yadi may have too much pride for that. I think he will want to start every game until he can’t start another game. Knowing Yadi, that may be 3-4 more years.
  5. Even if Yadi is willing to sit, Mike Matheny might play him anyways, which is a good gesture of respect on the surface, but could negatively affect the team in the long run. Mo might have to sit on Matheny’s shoulder. In fact, if I were Mo, I ask the Cards for a second office, one in the clubhouse, where I could monitor and tweak the daily lineup.

In the end, if Yadi is extended, barring clauses that limit his playing time, (which I’ll talk about below) Kelly will likely have to be dealt. Then when Yadi breaks down, (he is human after all (I think)) we’ll be left scrambling.

If I were Mo, in extension talks, if he’d consider a “Health/Mentor” clause, which limits Yadi’s playing time, say 100 to 110 games a year. I don’t think he’d agree to such a clause.

In the end, we may be between a rock and a hard place. If Yadi leaves, the pressure on Kelly to live up to his potential would be enormous. If he doesn’t fans will wonder why we didn’t keep Yadi. However, if Yadi stays and starts to decline, fans will wonder why we didn’t keep Kelly. I don’t see this ending well.

As always, thanks for reading.

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