Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com is reporting that the Rays are close to signing free agent catcher Jose Molina. The deal would be for one year with an option for 2013.
Molina, 36, is known for his expert handling of pitchers and has an intimate knowledge of the Rays’ opponents in the American League East after spending the last four and a half seasons with the Yankees and Blue Jays. He’s coming off one of the best offensive years of his career, posting a .281/.342/.415 line in 55 games with Toronto.
Molina hit .281 with three home runs and a .342 OBP (.334 wOBA) in 2011 with the Blue Jays. Defensively, Molina threw out 12 of 36 (33%) would be base stealers. He led the American League throwing out 44 percent (15 of 34) of base stealers in 2010.
Other than filling a need at catcher, Molina could also be a good luck charm. The last three world series winners have each had a Molina behind the plate. Jose was with the Yankees in 2009. Bengie caught for the Giants in 2010 and Yadier was a member of this year’s Cardinals championship team.
Signing Molina, a right-handed hitter, probably means that Kelly Shoppach will not be back with the Rays in 2012. The Rays had indicated that they were open to bringing Shoppach back after declining his 2012 option. Shoppach had also said that he was interested in returning.
The Rays do have a history with Jose Molina. Back in 2008, Molina appeared to be angered after he was hit by a pitch thrown by James Shields. Molina gave Shields a long stare. And then went way out of the baseline trying to take Jason Bartlett out at second base on a double play ball.