The St. Louis Cardinals announced today they signed Yadier Molina to a 5-year, $75 million contract extension that ranks as the third-largest deal for a catcher (behind Joe Mauer’s 8-year, $184 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and Mike Piazza’s 7-year, $91 million deal with the New York Mets). The Molina deal includes a mutual, $15 million option for a sixth season.
Molina, 29, is a four-time Gold Glove Award winner and a three-time All-Star. Last season was his strongest offensively, as he batted .305 with 14 HR and 65 RBI in 139 games. He also drove in 12 runs during the 2011 postseason.
Molina played for the Peoria Chiefs as a 19-year-old in 2002. He hit .280 with 7 HR and 50 RBI in 112 games.
Yadier Molina isn’t the only major-league Molina to play in the Midwest League. Four of the six Molinas who have played in the major leagues — including Yadier’s brothers Bengie and Jose — also played in the Midwest League. (Fun fact: Only one of the major-league Molinas wasn’t a catcher. Gabe Molina was a pitcher.)
Bengie Molina (the oldest of the three brothers) played 87 games for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 1994 and 1995. He hit .286 with 7 HR and 33 RBI.
Jose Molina (the middle brother) played 174 games in the Midwest League — 78 for the Peoria Chiefs in 1994 and 96 for the Rockford Cubbies in 1996. Collectively he hit .228 with 3 HR and 60 RBI. (Side note: Jose Molina played for the Chiefs when Peoria was affiliated with the Cubs; Yadier Molina played for the Chiefs when they were affiliated with the Cardinals.)
A fourth Molina — who, as far as I know, is not related in any way to the Molina brothers — also played in the Midwest League. Izzy Molina played 95 games for the Madison Muskies (an Oakland A’s affiliate) in 1991. He hit .282 with 3 HR and 45 RBI.