The Yankees need to secure an upgrade over Gary Sanchez this offseason, but signing Yadier Molina in free agency is not the answer.
Finding a new starting catcher this offseason should be one of Brian Cashman’s top priorities. Unfortunately, the free agency market is not filled with potential upgrades over Gary Sanchez. Overpaying for a veteran like Yadier Molina is not a move the Yankees should make.
The 38-year-old backstop is currently fielding interest from the Yankees, Cardinals, Mets, and “three to four other teams” according to Jon Heyman. That interest has Molina and his representatives seeking a two-year deal. That’s a big reason why the Yankees should pass on signing the veteran.
It’s possible that Molina would give New York a slight upgrade over Sanchez next season. He may not be the defensive savant he was during his prime, but he’s still miles ahead of Sanchez in that department. He’d be a welcome addition for New York’s pitching staff.
Why wouldn’t Yadier Molina be worth it for the Yankees?
The trouble is that Molina’s declining offensive production would almost completely eliminate any benefit he might provide with his glove. He only slashed .262/.303/.359 last season in 42 games. Repeating those numbers would outproduce Sanchez if the Yankee catcher suffers from the same struggles that tormented him in 2020. However, it’s reasonable for New York to expect Sanchez’s hitting to regress to the mean in 2021.
If the Yankees are going to make a move to upgrade the catcher position, they need to do something with more potential for long-term success. Signing J.T. Realmuto in free agency would be ideal, but it’s widely believed that he’ll be outside the team’s price range. That might make the consensus No. 2 catcher available on the open market, James McCann, a more palatable option for Cashman and his front office.
Signing a big-name 38-year-old to an outsized free agency contract might have been something the Yankees would have done back in George Steinbrenner’s day. It’s not a move the modern, analytically-driven organization overseen by Cashman should make. Passing on Molina is the right move for the Yankees in 2020.