MLB: Giants and C Bengie Molina finalize 1-year deal
SAN FRANCISCO — Bengie Molina and the San Francisco Giants completed a $4.5 million, one-year contract on Friday that brings the veteran catcher back to San Francisco.
The deal was completed one day after Molina passed a physical. The sides had agreed to terms earlier this week.
The move came as a surprise, because Molina had sought a multiyear contract and was in negotiations with the New York Mets. Earlier in the offseason, San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean indicated the 35-year-old free agent wouldn’t be back for a fourth season with the team.
“That ship has sailed,” Sabean said at the winter meetings last month.
But on Friday, Molina returned.
“We are fortunate to re-sign Bengie and keep him in a Giants uniform,” Sabean said in a statement. “He has been one of the better offensive catchers since he has been with us and with his knowledge and leadership is a big asset for our strong pitching staff.”
Molina hit .265 with 80 RBIs and a career-high 20 home runs last season, ranking second among NL catchers in homers, RBIs and extra-base hits (44). He can earn another $1.5 million this year in performance bonuses based on games started.
Bringing him back gives the Giants more time to groom top prospect Buster Posey, the fifth overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft out of Florida State.
Sabean said this winter he didn’t think Posey was ready to be a full-time major league catcher and would prefer he start the season with Triple-A Fresno to gain more experience.
Posey batted .325 with 18 homers and 80 RBIs in the minors last season and played seven games with the Giants in September.
The Mets offered Molina $5.5 million in guaranteed money as part of a proposal that included a vesting option for 2011. But if he stays healthy, he would earn $500,000 more from the Giants this year than under New York’s bid.
Molina is a .276 career hitter with 139 home runs and 675 RBIs in 12 big league seasons with the Angels, Blue Jays and Giants (2007-09). He won consecutive Gold Glove awards in 2002-03 with Anaheim.
He is the oldest of three brothers who are all major league catchers. Free agent Jose Molina helped the New York Yankees win the World Series last year in a part-time role, and Yadier Molina is an All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner with St. Louis.