According to MLB sources close to Fox Sports writer Jon Paul Morosi, a potential one year deal with former Blue Jays catcher and current type-B free agent, Jose Molina, are not only rumored, but imminent. Morosi writes,
How much the contract and option are worth is undetermined at the moment.
Molina is coming off his best offensive season ( .281/.342/.415) and is known for his excellent handling of pitchers, calling of games, and cannon of an arm. Too, Molina has post-season experience and could benefit the Rays with his intimate knowledge of the AL East, as well as offering some well needed defense against runners on the base paths.
This is only a temporary means to an end, and something will still need to be done to fill the gaping hole that is a good, long term catcher. At 36, one could assume that Molina is near the end of his career. Odds are that he wouldn’t be playing all 162 games, especially when you consider that he played in 55 games in 2011. However, this could buy Tampa Bay at least a year (at most two) to allow both Lobaton and Chirinos to develop in AAA Durham. It could also let the Rays (cough, ahem) dump John Jaso and re-sign Kelly Shoppach on the cheap.
In other Hot-Stove news, the baseball owners and players have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Of note, a second wildcard team from each league will be added to the post-season, and to move the Houston Astros from the NL to the AL.
It has yet to be determined whether the two wildcard teams will be facing one another in a one game sudden death playoff, or in a best of three or best of five game series. Whatever the case, this gives teams, like the Rays, that are in ultra competitive divisions a bit more wiggle room and opportunity to make it to the post-season. Hopes are high that this could start as early as the 2012 season. In any case though, this will go in effect no later than the 2013 season. Also, expect the Houston Astros to join the AL in the 2013 season. Good move? Indeed! With the Astros in the AL, the conundrum that is Interleague Play is solved because there will be 15 teams in each league. By the by, perhaps this will silence the jackals that assumed both the Rays and the A’s would be contracted…at least for the next five years.
Finally, Jon Heyman of SI.com recently tweeted that,
The Rays are hopeful of extending the contract of manager Joe Maddon.
Maddon’s three year contract extension from 2009 ends at the end of the 2012 season. After leading the Rays to three playoffs in four years including a 2008 World Series appearance, and winning the AL Manager of the Year twice in the last four years, we too at Raysbaseball.co hope the organization will extend Merlot Joe’s contract.
In addendum: I hastily failed to mention another huge (and positive) change that will be enacted in the 2012 season, the expansion of instant replay. At the moment, only home-run calls are subject to review. However, you can now tack on fair/foul and trapped/caught plays that will be subject to review, once MLB and the umpires agree on a method to conduct such reviews. How the instant replays will be reviewed is still in the air, and we’ll just have to wait and see how MLB will enact the change. Sadly missing from the change in expansion of instant replay are safe/out calls. Nevertheless, this change is a move in the right direction, and hopefully further change to include safe/out calls is not too far down the line.