Yadier Molina on looming free agency: “It’s business”

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It doesn’t sound like Yadier Molina is planning to offer the Cardinals much of a hometown discount in negotiations toward a long-term contract extension.

The 29-year-old catcher, who is currently slated to become a free agent five days after the conclusion of the 2012 World Series, spoke Thursday evening with Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“I love the city. I love the fans, I love the park,” said Molina. “But it’s out of my hands. Whatever they like to do is how it is. … They let Albert [Pujols] go. It’s business for the team, too. It’s out of my hands.”

Molina is regarded as one of the best — if not the best — defensive catchers in baseball. He also had a breakout season at the plate in 2011, batting .305 with a career-high .814 OPS, 14 home runs and 65 RBI in 518 plate appearances. With an equally strong 2012, he could attract a ton of interest on the open market.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.