When St. Louis Cardinals’ fans think of the “greatest Cardinals of all-time,” one of the first names to inevitably come to mind is catcher Yadier Molina. The 38-year-old has been crouching behind the plate and throwing out baserunners for the Redbird roster for 20 years. Although baseball is a game of trades, the St. Louis lineup could see some drastic and unthinkable changes for this coming season.
Molina, along with pitcher and teammate Adam Wainwright, has entered free agency for the first time since he was drafted into the major leagues in 2000. Since then, he has found a home in the St. Louis organization, quickly becoming a crowd favorite. Molina stands as one of the most decorated catchers and players in the league with nine Gold Glove Awards and countless other honors.
According to Anne Rogers on MLB.com, after recently completing a three-year contract for $60 million, Molina is looking to sign a two-year contract that will potentially take him to the end of his career at 40 years old. New York teams have taken a particular interest, and Molina has reportedly received calls from the Yankees and the Mets (@JonHeyman via Twitter, MLB Network).
Greenville University senior Jack Epley is a lifelong fan of the Cardinals, and he was surprised to learn of Molina’s free agency. Epley thinks that while there is a very high chance Molina will return to the Cardinals, there is always the slight chance that he could leave. “I think [Molina] understands his value to the organization and his legacy is written in stone in St. Louis. His absence would have a big, but not tremendous, impact on the team. He is way more than a catcher; he is a manager, coach, player, and a leader all in one. He impacts the team in every way possible,” said Epley. With as much presence as Molina brings, it would be a difficult transition for the team and organization.
When the news first broke, many fans could not believe it to be true. Could St. Louis be reliving the 2011 exit of Albert Pujols? Pujols, a three-time Most Valuable Player, signed with the Los Angeles Angels after his time with the Cardinals. While Molina’s decision to move on would be heartbreaking, fans would not likely be bitter for long. Epley said, “The response of Cardinal Nation if Yadi were to leave would be a very supportive one. Yadi has done so much for the best fans in baseball, and I know I would respect his decision to leave. Any team would be lucky to have the Hall-of-Famer for any period of time. I know I want to see Yadi and Wainwright finish their pristine careers wearing the birds on the bat!” No matter what jerseys these players wear, they are likely to still have a fanbase sitting in the stands of Busch Stadium.
What will the Cardinals do without the Gold Glove sniper behind the plate? Of course, they’ll play ball, but the presence of a legend would be amiss. Although the season may be a while away, many fans eagerly await for management to make the move and ensure that Molina stays behind the plate while wearing the white and red.
Media by Dustin Phelps.