Sunday, September 13, 2009

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Bengie Molina

Benjie Molina is one of the slowest players in baseball today. For that reason alone, he's one of my favorite players to watch.

Benjie Molina also has two brothers, who play professional baseball and both brothers (Jose and Yadier) are catchers just like him. What are the odds of that? The genes in the Molina household must be ridiculous.

But as Molina enters the twilight of his career, what are the chances that he's able to land one last big contract? Let's take a look:

The Case for Molina


Since 2003, Molina has never hit less than 10 home runs in any single season. Surprisingly Molina's power numbers have actually spiked a bit with age as he's averaged between 16-19 home runs per year with the Giants.


While Molina is no longer the top defensive catcher in baseball, he can still get the job done behind the plate. True, his percentage of caught base stealers this season is down to 24%, but over the course of his career, Molina is consistently thrown out around 30-35% of base stealers. And for what it's worth, under his watch, the Giants have developed two of the best young pitchers in baseball (Lincecum, Cain) and the career of Barry Zito has been revitalized.

The Case against Molina


Molina has never drawn more than 20 walks in any season since 2006. In addition, Molina in two of the last three seasons, Molina has produced sub .300 OBPs. And finally, Molina's lifetime OBP is .307. Even though Molina is a lifetime .275 hitter, his inability to draw walks and get on base limits his value.


We have already documented how poor Benjie Molina's OBP has been, but that doesn't tell the entire story. According to fangraphs, Molina swings at 43.8% of pitches he sees that are out of the strike zone. The man truly does not see a pitch that he doesn't like to swing at.


Molina is 35 years old and will be turning 36 next July. You have to wonder how much longer Molina will be able to play at a high level and how much more wear and tear Molina's body can take. Fitness has never been a trademark of Molina's, so it'll be interested to see how many years he has left as a starter.


-While Benjie Molina can no longer be considered a top flight catcher, the one thing that he has going for him offseason is that the market for catchers is very weak. Aside from Jason Kendall and maybe Rod Barajas (gulp), you'd have a really difficult time saying that any of the catchers on the free agent market is significantly better than Molina at the moment.

Elias Ranking: Type A

-If Molina is a type A free agent, you have to wonder if the Giants would offer him arbitration. I'm sure the Giants don't feel terribly comfortable committing a large chunk of change to Molina with Buster Posey waiting in the wings, but the allure of landing two more draft picks sure is enticing.

(rankings courtesy of MLBTR)


(2 years/$6 million)

Here are some comparable contracts:

Ivan Rodriguez (1 year/$1.5 million)
Rod Barajas (2 years/$2.9 million)
Gregg Zaun (1 year/$2 million)

I'll admit this: there weren't too many comparable contracts for Benjie Molina. But despite that, I think Molina will benefit from the lack of quality catchers on the free agent market this season and ultimately earn a multi year deal. However, I'm very skeptical that Molina will be an effective starting catcher over the course of the entire contract.


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Zach Sanders said...

2yr/$6MM seems a bit shy of my prediction. I think he'll get closer to 2/$10MM

Jorge Says No! said...

In that case, let's just settle on 2 years/$8 million!