Advertisement
  1. Rays

Molina proves comfortable fit for Rays

Based on Defensive WAR (wins above replacement), Jose Molina's .5 rating was sixth best among American League catchers with 90 or more games.
Published Nov. 24, 2013

Jose Molina certainly was not the best catcher on the market this winter, not even necessarily among the second-tier candidates.

Not with his advancing age (39 in June), limited offensive contributions (.594 on-base plus slugging percentage) and lack of mobility behind the plate (eight passed balls, 33 wild pitches).

But in deciding to bring him back, with a two-year deal expected to be finished this week, the Rays obviously considered Molina the best choice for them.

Familiarity obviously has its benefits. The Rays felt he was better defensively than any of the other affordable free agent options, must not have thought a trade for Ryan Hanigan or anyone else would work, and decided they had better move now — relatively early for them on free agents — before missing out.

Molina's game-calling and pitch-framing are definite benefits, and even with a dropoff to 23.3 percent, he was above average in throwing out runners. Based on Defensive WAR (wins above replacement), Molina's .5 rating was sixth best among American League catchers with 90 or more games. (Jose Lobaton was .3. Interestingly, pitchers had basically the same ERA with either — 3.73 for Molina, 3.74 for Lobaton).

There's a financial element, too, and though final terms aren't set, it seems unlikely Molina would get much more than the $3.3 million he made total the past two seasons.

Molina obviously felt the same about the Rays, as he had interest from several other teams as a backup. But he liked the competitive situation, liked playing for manager Joe Maddon, liked living in the Tampa Bay area, not far from his Puerto Rico home.

In theory, Lobaton will continue the progress he made last season and take over as the primary catcher and Molina can be used in a more suitable backup role. Last year, Molina started a career-high 87 games and Lobaton 76, so at least those numbers might flip.

Q-BALL: Matt Quatraro is excited and still a bit dazed about leaving the Rays' minor-league coaching staff for a big-league job as the Indians' assistant hitting coach. Quatraro played seven seasons and coached 10 in various roles without reaching the majors, and aside from a 2003 spring stint with the Yankees, he has worn only Rays uniforms since being an eighth-round pick in their inaugural 1996 draft.

"I'm excited about the job, but as far as actually being in the big leagues, it probably won't hit me until I'm standing on the line opening day," Quatraro said. "It's definitely exciting, and it's bittersweet a little bit because I would have loved for it to be with Tampa Bay, but the opportunity wasn't there."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Texas 1B Mitch Moreland was a trade possibility even before the Rangers acquired Prince Fielder, maybe more so now. And though the Rangers traded Ian Kinsler from their middle infield surplus, it shouldn't impact potential talks for Rays LHP David Price. … Of the additions to the 40-man roster, figure RHP Kirby Yates and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser most likely to see 2013 big-league action, with Vince Belnome, who can hit and play first, second and third, a possibility. … The spring training schedule likely will be out this week. … Next roster deadline is Dec. 2, with decisions on tendering contracts to the nine arbitration eligible players, including potentially interesting calls on INF Sean Rodriguez and LHPs Cesar Ramos and Wesley Wright. … RHP Jeff Niemann, who became a free agent last week, told mlb.com he "absolutely" would be interested in returning, though it may be midseason until he is game-ready following shoulder surgery. … Jason Cole, a writer for Baseball Prospectus who (curiously) specialized in the Rangers, was hired as a pro scout. … Two ex-Rays signed minor-league contracts, INF Reid Brignac with the Phillies, RHP Seth McClung with the Pirates.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A rainout likely clears the way for the Yankees to pitch Masahiro Tanaka on Thursday. MATT SLOCUM  |  AP
    Northeast expected to be hit by powerful coastal storm known as ‘Bomb Cyclone.’
  2. Rays relief pitcher Nick Anderson has earned two postseason honors thanks to his stellar performance in the team's bid to reach the postseason Doug Clifford | Tampa Bay Times
    July 31 trade acquisition from Marlins named to Baseball America’s all-rookie team and wins top Midwest player award.
  3. The Rays' Tommy Pham proved to be one of the team's best players in 2019. His success is made more remarkable by overcoming a debilitating eye disease in years past that threatened his career. CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP
    Tommy Pham spoke to more than 150 doctors in San Francisco about his eye condition, keratoconus.
  4. Joe Maddon had successful runs with the Rays and Cubs, and now heads back to the Angels. Tampa Bay Times
    Maddon gets a reported three-year deal to return to his original organization, and one that could use his help.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Joey Wendle (18) looks from the dugout after losing 6-1 to the Houston Astros after winning Game 5 of the American League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: Times beat writer Marc Topkin looks ahead to the offseason, Rays free agents and the future of the opener.
  6. Astros starter Gerrit Cole continues his dominant postseason against the Yankees in Game 3. FRANK FRANKLIN II  |  AP
    Houston takes a two games to one lead at Yankee Stadium
  7. The Tampa Sports Authority is scheduled to take up a renovation proposal for New York Yankees spring training home George M. Steinbrenner Field today. The Yanks plan to improve outfield views and concourses, revamp entry ways and add shade for fans. [Getty Images]
    The team will host a ALCS watch party at its spring training home Tampa
  8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant) ALASTAIR GRANT  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What else went wrong in London, ranking the Rays, Lightning worries, Gators’ SEC title hopes.
  9. Yankees manager Aaron Boone talks about his plans for a bullpen day in Thursday's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. KATHY WILLENS  |  AP
    The Rays Way could play a role in the ALCS.
  10. The Nationals' Victor Robles reacts as he crosses home after hitting a home run during the sixth inning of a Game 3 rout of the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series. JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP
    Washington rolls to an 8-1 rout, is one game from World Series.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement