According to several media reports, the St. Louis Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are extremely close to agreeing on a five year contract extension worth between $70 million and $75 million. Perhaps the only thing more surprising than the dollar figure is the fact that Molina, whose reputation after eight years in the league is that of a grizzled veteran, is only 29 years old.

By average annual value, a $75 million deal would make Molina the second highest paid catcher of all time, behind Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins. Not bad for a player who’s only scheduled to make $7 million in 2012.

If we go by the typical $/WAR analysis, such a contract would require Molina to put up more than a dozen wins above replacement over the next five years. As a member of the rare breed of elite catchers though, you could probably justify modifying that analysis slightly. Considering the difference of opinion in measuring a catcher’s defensive value, the typical $/WAR analysis becomes even more questionable.

While certainly ages 30-34 will project differently than ages 24-28, here are Molina’s WAR totals over the last five years according to FanGraphs, Baseball Reference and Baseball Prospectus:

  • 14.7 fWAR
  • 12.5 rWAR
  • 10.0 WARP

It should also be noted that Molina ranked fifth in the league over those last five years at framing the strike zone and saving runs by getting extra strike calls at the edge of the zone.

Given these factors, plus the intangible elements of the Cardinals fan base losing Albert Pujols this off season, not to mention manager Tony La Russa’s departure, extending Molina is likely a better deal than straight numbers analysis might suggest, as it does solidify the identity of the team. I’ve read before that this is important to supporters.

In 2011, Molina doubled his ISO numbers from the year before, hitting a career high 14 home runs. If he can maintain and develop that type of power as he ages over the life of this contract, we may not even have to use other factors and intangibles to justify the deal.

And The Rest

Yesterday’s Spring Dispatches brings a few of the best shots from picture day and keeps us up to date on all of the unimportant happenings in camps around the league. [Getting Blanked]

Apparently, handing out a five year contract to a player after one good season at the age of 30 doesn’t constitute a bold move. [DJF]

Jason Varitek will announce his retirement from baseball on Thursday. []

What extending Sean Marshall means for the future of Joey Votto, who would cost a heck of a lot in a trade if the Reds become willing to move him this season. [Getting Blanked]

The Kansas City Royals have locked up catcher Salvador Perez to a five year contract with club options through 2019. [Twitter]

What kind of contract offers would Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Matt Moore receive if they were free agents? [ESPN]

Well, that’s a theory. Deadspin gives its take on the Ryan Braun suspension appeal. [Deadspin]

Oakland A’s infielder Scott Sizemore will miss the entirety of the 2012 season with an ACL tear in his left knee. [Twitter]

Is the Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten group the favourite to win ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers? [L.A. Times]

For links to all the posts at Getting Blanked, follow the blog on Twitter. [Twitter]

For even more Getting Blanked content, “like” our page on Facebook. [Facebook]

Finally, ESPN’s Spring Training coverage appears as though it’s giving fans the finger. [Twitter]