This could be biased but it probably isn’t due to the ridiculousness of the rumor. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Cardinals have a five year extention worth $70-75 million with Yadier Molina. Barf! Molina has four straight Gold Gloves and posted a career high .814 OPS in 2011, but he remains a .274/.331/.377 career hitter, heading into his age 30 season.
Molina’s ability to call a game and be an effective, defensive catcher aren’t in question, but how much is that worth? And, more specifically, what does paying someone like Molina $15 million per season do for other players? As guys like Prince Fielder and Edwin Jackson sat around waiting for a deal, you could wonder what the floor of a solid veteran was worth. Jackson went from a five year, $75 million expectation to a one year deal with Washington. Until Victor Martinez’s injury, Fielder looked like he would have to settle for a short term deal, too. So, if Molina is worth $15 million a year, what in the world is Carlos Santana, Eric Hosmer, Andrew McCutchen, or any other young, established star going to be worth as they head towards Free Agency?
The MLBPA should be very pleased with this contract. It is similar to what Derek Jeter was able to do – get overpaid by the team that developed him to create a Public Relations wonderland. Jeter wasn’t worth a three year deal prior to 2011, and Molina isn’t worth anywhere near $15 million per season, nor is a 30-year-old catcher worth a five year contract. However, MLB should step in on this type of contract. It is going to hamper the Cardinals in the future, it is going to increase the value of lesser players, and it is going to set the standard for mediocre players to get paid high annual salaries for no reason. These contracts are and have been reserved for the elite. Molina is an elite catcher. He isn’t an elite baseball player. Eddie Perez was an elite catcher when he was the personal catcher for Greg Maddux. He wasn’t an elite baseball player. Molina isn’t Eddie Perez, but he certainly isn’t Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, or, even Miguel Montero.