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Is Jose Molina a Good Fit for the Rays?: A Fan’s Take
When you're a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, there's one thing you can always count on. The Rays won't be pursuing any big name free agents in the offseason. Rays fans can rest assured that the names Pujols or Fielder won't be on the back of a Rays jersey anytime soon.
The last time the Rays tried to make a splash in the free agent market the results were disastrous.
After losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series, the Rays attempted to address their DH needs by signing Pat "The Bat" Burrell. The Rays signed Burrell to a lucrative (by Rays standards) two-year, $18 million dollar contract before the 2009 season. In return for their investment they got 146 games, 16 home runs, 77 RBIs and a .218 batting average. Burrell was released by the Rays during the 2010 season after appearing in just 24 games.
With the exception of the Pat Burrell(notes) signing, the Rays free agent acquisitions tend to be strategic, not flashy. That's why the first potential free agent signing by the Rays, this offseason, fits their philosophy perfectly.
The Rays need a catcher and signing Molina makes sense for the Rays. Molina isn't an everyday catcher or an offensive juggernaut, but he's a perfect fit for the type of catching platoon the Rays favor.
While offensively he isn't the best (for his career he's hit .241 with 29 home runs and 163 RBIs), Molina is an excellent defensive catcher. Over the course of his 12 Major League seasons, he's thrown out 40% of potential base stealers. That ranks fourth amongst active catchers. His defensive prowess fits nicely into the Rays philosophy of winning with defense and pitching.
Molina will bring experience to the Rays crop of young catchers. He should be an excellent mentor to John Jaso(notes), Robinson Chirinos(notes) and Jose Lobaton(notes). The Rays will also enjoy the luxury of having an experienced catcher handle their extremely talented, but still young, starting rotation.
The deal hasn't been finalized yet and the terms of the contract haven't been announced. However, Molina's salary with the Blue Jays in 2011 was $1.2 million and it's likely that his deal with the Rays should be somewhere in the $1.5-$2 million range for 2012. Adding a solid, veteran player for that type of salary is always a bonus for the budget conscious Rays.
Molina may not be the sexy offensive addition that some Rays' fans were hoping for, but when you look at the Rays philosophy and how they go about building a competitive team, there's no arguing that Molina would be an excellent addition.
Sean McDonnell has been a resident of the Tampa Bay area for the past 21 years. He is an avid fan of the Tampa Bay Rays; Tampa Bay Bucs and USF Bulls.
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