For all those that thought that the Yadier Molina contract issue might be done peacefully and without incident, sorry about that.
Earlier this week Yadi’s brother, Bengie Molina, was on MLB Network Radio and said a number of things that, honestly, he’s said either directly or indirectly on his regular appearances on the Two Birds on a Bat podcast, that Yadi wants to stay a Cardinal but that he’s fine with leaving and that the front office of the Cardinals hasn’t been very active in trying to retain him. (Bengie talks about these comments in the most recent TBoaB, but I’ve not had a chance to listen. I doubt he softens them any, however.) Both points are a bit disturbing to Cardinal fans who want to make sure that possibly the best catcher in franchise history doesn’t done another team’s jersey–which would be an overwhelming percentage of them.
As Bengie notes in some comments for Jose Ortiz’s article on the subject, he (apparently) doesn’t speak for Yadi and he doesn’t talk to his brother about the contract discussions. While the latter might be true in the details, there’s obviously some discussion on the tone or the frustration Yadi is having for Bengie to feel comfortable going public with comments like this. While Bengie may not feel like he’s standing in for Yadi in the public arena, there are very few that aren’t going to believe that he’s speaking for his brother, especially if Yadi doesn’t contradict or ask him to tone it down somewhat. I know that Bengie is a very proud brother–with every reason to be!–but that doesn’t always help when it comes to contract negotiations.
Honestly, there seems to be a lot of pride here on both sides. We talked back in December about this situation and I noted then that Yadi’s pride in his work, his unwillingness to accept being a backup, could cause a problem when it came down to signing a deal. Again, the money isn’t the issue, or at least it shouldn’t be. I’ve heard fans from across the spectrum, even sabermetric types who tend to focus on what a player can do and quantify a contract in some manner, who say give Yadi what he wants. The deal isn’t going to destroy payroll or keep you from doing other things to improve the team, if necessary. Just take a small portion of that billion-dollar FOX contract that starts next year, earmark it for Yadi, and go on.
However, there’s probably some pride in the front office as well that’s hanging this up. They’ve got a reputation for being a smart, fiscally conscious organization that is able to get the most out of a little. They’ve got a reputation for having quality guys in the minors that can fill in gaps created by injuries or departures. They got some kudos for being strong enough to let Albert Pujols go (even though they offered him $200 million, so that legend is a little overblown). That’s a reputation they are proud to have, I believe, and aren’t necessarily eager to throw it away (even in part) to make an unwise deal with a franchise catcher, not with Carson Kelly waiting in the wings.
Still, they have to get this done. This isn’t Albert Pujols. As much as many of us hated to let Pujols go, you could easily make the case that the organization did the right thing. Ten years is a long time, $240 million a lot of money. Not only is the Molina contract not going to be nearly that much of a commitment, the financial status of the organization is different than it was five years ago when Pujols signed. We saw the Cardinals go big on David Price and Jason Heyward an offseason ago and there’s a strong possibility they’ll be able to at least be in the hunt for a Bryce Harper or a Manny Machado in a couple of years. I’m not saying Molina’s contract is going to be chump change, but MLB last year sold a portion (just a portion!) of their Advanced Media cash cow to Disney for $3.6 billion. While I know that all of that won’t be distributed straight to the clubs, that’s still $120 million per franchise. Say that each team got 10% of that. $12 million goes a long way toward cushioning the price of Yadi’s deal.
I’m sure the Cardinals want to be cautious, but I’d rather see them be creative. I think it was our friend Bob Netherton on Twitter that suggested a four-year contract with a 10-year personal services contract at the end of it, which is a great idea. Not only does it lock Molina into this organization for a long time, it lets him be treated like his friend Pujols. That’s respect. Perhaps you work in a deal that if he misses X amount because of injury, the playing part decreases (well, I guess you’d have to add bonuses for playing time rather than deductions, given the nature of MLB contracts) or that the personal services contract kicks in earlier. I don’t know, but I don’t think the Cardinals have any excuse for not getting something done with one of the legendary figures in the history of the club.
I wanted to spend some time talking about Trevor Rosenthal‘s outing, how Tyler Lyons might be back to games soon, Matt Carpenter‘s back, and the return of Seung-hwan Oh but I’ve pretty much ran out of time this morning. Hopefully we can get to topics like that soon. Don’t forget that #CardsMadness is going on over on Twitter, with the Gibson regional going today. If the schedule stays like it did yesterday, my matchup with DrMilesM5 will go off mid-afternoon or so and I would appreciate your support, even though the good doctor is a great Twitter follow and made his UCB Radio hosting debut on Wednesday night. If you want some more #CardsMadness insight, Tara Wellman, Allen Medlock, and I broke down the ballots in the latest episode of Meet Me At Musial.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means that we have to deal with those terrible green uniforms again. I still don’t know who buys those things.