3 Yadier Molina replacements Cardinals should already be eyeing

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May 31, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) reacts after Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) catches a hit which results in him out during the second inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals are likely to lose Yadier Molina after this season, since he’s said as much. Here are some plausible replacements.

The Cardinals may have something special in the team’s No. 7-ranked prospect Ivan Herrera, or perhaps Andrew Knizer can prove his worth as a possible short-term replacement for Molina, but odds are St. Louis will be looking elsewhere for a starting catcher come the 2022 offseason.

Yadi is a future Hall of Famer (likely), and for good reason. He’s arguably the best catcher of his generation, and has set numerous records on his own and with battery-mate Adam Wainwright.

This offseason, Molina agreed to return for one last run. Assuming that opinion doesn’t change, the Cardinals should be eyeing some potential replacements already so they aren’t caught off-guard.

“Well, it’s enough,” Molina said about his career. “I mean, 19 years is a long career, and my position is a tough one. Right now, I would like to do my best, and I’m going to train my body hard, but it’s hard to keep up with this game to a high level right now when you’re 39.”

10 All-Star appearances, nine Gold Gloves, four platinum gloves, two World Series titles and a Silver Slugger will make a man feel that way. By the end of the 2022 season, it’ll be time.

Yadier Molina replacements: Cardinals could sign Christian Vazquez

The Red Sox were close to trading for Pittsburgh Pirates backstop Jacob Stallings for a reason, as Vazquez’s contract is up after this season. Boston has both Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki under contract for next season, so a corresponding move would’ve been necessary. But, nonetheless, it shows Vazquez’s future in Boston is murky at best.

Vazquez is one of the better hitting catchers in all of baseball. He slashed .258/.308/.352 in 138 games last year. His strikeout rate decreased in 2021, while he struggled to make hard contact quite a bit this past season. Defensively, Vazquez is essentially quite average, and his pitch-framing could use some work. The following is from Over the Monster, Boston’s SB Nation blog.

“This year, though, his framing was rated as essentially neutral by Baseball Savant, and was actually negative by FanGraphs’ measure. Additionally, his ability to control the running game as measured again by FanGraphs was just neutral.”

That’s where we see the biggest step down from a player of Molina’s stature.

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