A future Hall of Famer on Phillies’ radar this offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Phillies spent over $700 million on free agents the last three offseasons. Spending all over baseball could be impacted this winter by revenues lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that's not going to stop us from taking a daily look these next few weeks at some free agents who would fill needs and help the Phillies get better.
Today: Catcher Yadier Molina
Career to date
The 38-year-old Cardinals legend is a free agent after 17 seasons in St. Louis, 11 of which included a trip to the playoffs.
Molina is a two-time World Series champ, a nine-time All-Star and a nine-time Gold Glove catcher.
He's a career .281 hitter at a position that has not generated much offense over the last decade. He's had five seasons hitting over .300 but has hit .268/.312/.419 over the last four years.
At a position like first base or the outfield, those would be disappointing offensive numbers. But over that same span, catchers league-wide have hit .238/.310/.397.
What Molina is best known for, though, is his defense, game-calling and leadership. He no longer throws out base-stealers at an elite clip but is still a trusted, reliable receiver pitchers are confident throwing to.
Molina missed eight games after testing positive for COVID-19. He was the first of 10 Cardinals players to return in late August after a COVID outbreak forced the entire team to sit from July 31 through Aug. 14. The Cards played a doubleheader-heavy schedule from there.
In 156 plate appearances, Molina hit .262 with a .662 OPS, his lowest since 2015.
He's a streaky offensive player who tends to bunch together his multi-hit games and there wasn't enough time for that in 2020.
How he'd impact the Phillies
Molina is not the offensive player, baserunner or thrower that J.T. Realmuto is, but the Phillies might not lose a ton of defensive value with a Plan B of Molina.
It would also be interesting to see what an established, successful game-caller like Molina could do with these Phillies pitchers. Realmuto excels in almost every regard behind the plate but if there's a knock, it's been questionable sequencing by the Phillies at times.
Molina is seeking a two-year deal and could get it because of the dearth of quality catchers. He is the third-best catcher on the free-agent market after Realmuto and James McCann.
Something like a two-year, $20 million deal could make sense. Molina just completed a three-year, $60 million contract.
It's still likely that he stays in St. Louis and finishes his career there. Some guys just feel like one-franchise guys and it would be odd to see Molina in a different uniform.