New York Yankees News/Rumors: With the Yankees quest for a catcher, will they look to another Molina brother?

It’s no secret that the New York Yankees are in a bit of a quandary as to who will be the 2021 starting catcher for the team. Although past years have been question marks with Gary Sanchez’s strikeouts, poor defense, and the ability to stay healthy this season, the biggest question will be if Sanchez will be the primary catcher for the Yankees going forward. Sanchez stayed healthy throughout the season in which he had his worst performance in his Yankee career. He hit only .147, and his defense was again deficient.

From the time Gary Sanchez burst onto the scene in 2016, the Yankee heralded him as their catcher for the next decade and beyond. 2016 and 2017 made that statement believable. In 2017 he hit 33 homers. But his 2018 season was horrible catching and hitting. In 2019 he had a bit of a bounce-back with some improved catching and 34 home runs. But even with those stats could only garner a .232 batting average. Sanchez is not the player who gets on base; he had never had over 90 RBI’s in his career. This year he reverted to the poor catcher syndrome and merely took up space in the lineup without production.

The New York Yankees have a big decision to make with their backstop. They have to decide if his performance this year was affected by the shortened season or if it’s a sign of his future performance.  Meanwhile, backup catcher Kyle Higashioka has made a name for himself as Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher. Cole lost only one game with Higashioka catching him, and in that game, the Yankees only scored one run. As the season progressed, the Yankee brass began to lose faith in Sanchez, sitting him and letting Higashioka catch more games, even in the postseason.

There is an easy answer to solve the catching problem: for the Yankees to go out and sign arguably the best catcher in the game, J.T. Realmuto, a free agent. However, the likelihood of that happening is near zero. Realmuto will require that the catcher receive a record-breaking contract for a catcher. With the Yankees lack of revenue this year, and upcoming arbitration costs coming up, it is very doubtful the Yankees will spend that kind of money on a catcher.

There are other catchers out there that are free agents, but few that are an upgrade to Sanchez. One interesting look is Yadier Molina.  The Yankees have turned to one of the Molina brothers before. In 2007 they traded for Yadier’s brother Jose when Jorge Posada was injured. They later signed him to a two-year contract through 2009. Jose won a world series ring in 2009. The three Molina brothers are the only threesome in baseball to all win World Series rings.

The 38-year-old Molina has spent all 17 years of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals but now is a free agent. The Cards will make every effort to keep him there. Molina is without question one of his generation’s best catchers, and if younger, would require a contract similar to Realmuto. Jadier stays healthy and is a contact hitter. He has a career batting average of .281 with over 2,000 hits. The younger Molina brother would answer the pitching problem and would only cost a fraction of Realmuto’s projected salary.  Jadier has said he would love to pitch into his ’40s and would require at least a two-year contract.

Molina might be happy to catch where his brother caught with the Yankees. Molina has earned a ton of money in his career and may be more interested in career-defining moments to help him in his quest for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He knows with the present Cardinal team that is not likely to happen in the next few years. A Yankees World Series ring might entice him to become a New York Yankee.

With the Yankee’s shortage of money and other unavoidable costs, I feel the Yankees will do nothing to solve the catching problem, and instead, will focus on improving the pitching situation that many feel caused the Yankees to both lose the division and in the postseason.  The New York Yankees may very well let Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka fight it out in spring training for that starting catcher spot. The Yankees should also resign backup catcher Erik Kratz, who works very well with the Yankees’ young pitching prospects.

One of the more memorable quotes of the 2020 season is when Erik Kratz, upon catching Deivi Garcia’s Major League debut, ran from the dugout shouting, “I’m going to catch my son.”’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow him on Twitter @parleewilliam.