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.

 
 

16 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Great job by our local media to suggest that signing……Oops, I might have missed something?

    Again, our local MAINSTREAM beat patrol misses a story that national people get and of course Cork gets, but geez, what a joke our local press is again!

  2. Steve says:

    Pencil in the Rays for the WS now! But seriously this should be a huge upgrade for the backup C spot. A guy that can keep a rally going instead of swinging for the fences 3 times and grabbing some pine. I know Shop showed some promise in Sep and the ALDS but I feel much better with Jose back there and he can at least hold his own against righties so if we are playing an aggressive running team like Texas, they won’t be free to run the bases as they please on Jaso. I still don’t think the Rays are done with this position. I think they still want to upgrade the priamary C spot because I think its pretty obvious to everyone that Jaso cannot catch and now he can’t hit so he is pretty much useless.

  3. Jim says:

    Oh man, please let this happen. Imagine a catcher like that with our pitching staff.

  4. pete says:

    Fanfreakingtastic! That is all.

  5. CC says:

    What a huge difference this will make? Our pitching staff will benefit tremendously! Make it happen Stu.

  6. Andy says:

    As all have said, this would be RaysTastic!!! An added bonus would be not having to face him, either. Don’t have stats to confirm this, but it seems he derailed our running prowess whenever we played him the last year or two, much like we hope he’ll do for us vs teams like Texas!!! Sure hope the baseball gods smile upon us on this one!!!

  7. Scot says:

    There is virtually no evidence that catchers can “handle the pitching staff.” Its great for Crash Davis, but unless a guy is despised and a pitcher wants to trash his ERA, catchers qualities are in being able to block wild pitches and reduce the opposition’s running game. The guess is that this is a cheaper signing than Shoppach.

  8. phil says:

    now get a young stud catcher to work with and learn from Molina!

  9. CC says:

    Scot, what are you smoking. Have you watched Jaso catch. Its about total defense. Setting up pitches. Framing pitches. Not catching a pitched ball on the edge of the plate and letting your glove carry outside of the strike zone. Thus not getting the call. A quality catcher makes a huge difference.

    • Beth says:

      Also, don’t catchers usually call the pitches? Pitch selection surely plays a role in a pitcher’s effectiveness.

      • Alex says:

        Jose Molina was certainly helpful to AJ Burnett, and Brandon Morrow. Catchers do call the game so that is another factor but one of the most important things that can’t be tracked is a pitchers confidence in a catcher. With Shoppach, Jaso, Chirinos etc… our pitchers throwing a curveball in the dirt was usually a disaster. With a competent catcher that they can trust, our pitchers will be able to throw any pitch and feel like it wont cost the team.

  10. Beth says:

    Didn’t we call this? I could swear there was a discussion thread a few weeks back that suggested we go out and find a Molina.

    • KillaTapes says:

      Probably not what you’re referring to, but I did jokingly say we should trade Maddon for Yadier! Maybe we can sign him still, I’m sure he’d miss out on millions to play alongside his older bro! ;)

    • Gus says:

      Beth:
      We have been asking for a Molina for 2012 for some time on this site. I believe that I suggested Stu stop dumping on the fans and go sign us a Molina. He may not be the best Molina, but it would be a huge upgrade defensively (Shoppach played poorly defensively under pressure in particular) and a magic talisman.

      4 days out I’m starting to get nervous. But this would be a nice move.

      One more: I had a dream last night that Pena re-signed with the Rays. Not sure if that means anything. I think I prefer a cheap Kotchman, but my subconcious is telling me somethig else.

      • Beth says:

        I’d love to see Carlos back here. Nicest smile in the majors, good defense, and I never quite appreciated how nice it is to have someone who is an actual home run threat until we spent 2011 with no one who was a real home run threat (Longo picked it up at the end, I should add).

        But apparently even aging sluggers who can’t hit more than .220 will look for $8 – 10 million contracts. As that would be 20 or more % of the payroll, that seems steep for what he brings.

        And as for the Molinas — yeah, he’s not the top Molina, but isn’t Benjie retired? And we were hardly going to get Yadier. So let’s just hope the Jose deal gets made.

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