Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

Quotebook: “Admirable” Molina becomes 2nd-highest-paid catcher in history

I really admire what Yadi was willing to do. You certainly don’t know what the free-agent market might have looked like for him. His willingness to really want to be here and stay here really says a lot about his commitment to the organization.

— John Mozeliak

I grew up here. It was my first choice to stay here, and I’m glad we did it.

Yadier Molina, Mar. 1

I will say this: I like the town, I like the city, but at the same time I have to think about my family. Like they would about their team. Like I said, this is business. If I get good money, I’ll take it. If I don’t, I’ll go away.

— Molina, Feb. 22

Yes, Yadi is a real sacrificial hero, willing to stay in this old backwater hamlet for only $75 million and $15 million a year as the second-highest-paid catcher in history. We can only hope that it will be enough to let him take care of his family. As for commitment to the organization, this is the player who just days ago said he wouldn’t brook the notion of a hometown discount.  This sounds a lot like what Albert Pujols used to say, only in reverse. The difference of course is that, for Molina, the Cardinals agreed to pay his price.

As with Pujols, we don’t begrudge a man his right (and one might even say obligation) to optimize his earnings. But for Mozeliak to pretend that it’s somehow admirable that Molina, who openly claimed that he was only considering himself, is too much. Let’s admire Molina for his considerable baseball talents and forthrightness, and spare the false praise for an imagined loyalty.

Nobody could (guess) what happens if he becomes a free agent. That was not going to be a great outcome.

— Melvin Roman, Molina’s agent

You could say that again, Mel! It’s hard to imagine a better outcome than this one for the agent. Make no mistake: Like negotiating with Scott Boras just before his player hits the free-agent market — e.g., Kyle Lohse — the team is seldom going to get a bargain. Regardless of whether the Cardinals will get the better end of the deal, it’s likely that they overpaid with respect to the marketplace. It’s hard to fathom that Molina would’ve actually gotten $15 million per year — for his age 30-34 seasons, no less — from anyone around baseball, including the Red Sox and Yankees. And to prove that Mozeliak still hasn’t learned from his previous mistakes, the contact includes the now-standard no-trade clause (effective for the next two years, at least, after which time he would’ve automatically earned it), which, as we’ve argued, is an invisible and unaccounted for cost to contracts.

Talk to our pitchers, and they’re thrilled that this is done. I spoke to Mike Matheny and he thought this was a no-brainer.


Of course, they’re thrilled. Sure, the team’s pitchers like having an experienced game-caller guiding them through games. But for major-league pitchers, or any player, for that matter, when a player hits a huge payday, it’s effectively good for them, too, because it escalates pay. As for Matheny, he doesn’t have to worry about the long-term effects of the deal, which may be detrimental, because he, like presidents, is only concerned with what can help him in the short-term. That’s not to say that neither the team’s pitchers nor manager can be legitimately pleased with the signing, but it’s a stretch to offer their advocacy as objective testimony.

It was a difficult market to evaluate.

— Mozeliak

One might say that the best way to evaluate a difficult market is to see what happens when it opens. But Mozeliak, perhaps bruised from the Pujols departure, might have felt that any gamble was worth at least the public-relations gain. The good news is that the Cardinals have one less piece of the future puzzle to worry about, and a fan favorite to keep cheering for.

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