Cardinals consider placing receiver Yadier Molina on the injured list tomorrow, reports Katie Woo of The Athletic. Molina has battled knee pain this year and will be sidelined for “at least a few weeks”. Catch the prospect Ivan Herrera will be recalled to take its place on the active list.
Molina, 39, is a longtime Cardinal, having been drafted by the team in 2000. In August last year, he and the team agreed to a one-year, $10 million extension , Molina announcing the next day that 2022 would be his last season. It’s not exactly the dream season he and the club were probably hoping for, as he’s slumped to a .213/.225/.294 batting line on the campaign so far. This equates to a wRC+ of just 47, although it seems quite likely that knee issues have an impact on that, as Woo reports he’s had to deal with this pain all year.
According to the report, Molina received several cortisone injections over the past weekend in an attempt to ease the pain. While the club wanted a 48-hour grace period for the penalty kicks to take effect, Molina evidently lobbied to get out of the confines of that schedule. He then caught games on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, although apparently the problem has not subsided enough for him to continue playing.
With Molina on the shelf, the Cardinals will now turn to a few other options to nab tasks, both of which come with unknowns. Andre Knizner formed the other part of the club’s catching tandem this year, although he didn’t impress much, producing a .198/.283/.257, 63 wRC+ line. Woo spoke to Cardinals manager Oli Marmol about Knizner’s disappointing results so far, despite getting more playing time with Molina’s knee issues. “When you save Yadi in previous years, it’s tough,” Marmol said. “Now that (Knizner) is actually there three times a week, four times a week, the expectations are no longer ‘trying to find my timing’. You get a real opportunity, so the expectations are different. He knows it. Now all he has to do is go.”
Joining Knizner on the list will be Herrera, who is considered by many to be one of baseball’s top 100 prospects by FanGraphs, The Athletic’s Keith Law and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel. He was briefly called up to the majors earlier this year when Molina went on the mourners list, but only played one game and did not make an appearance on the board. Other than that, he spent the year in Triple-A, posting an impressive line of .291/.388/.436 for a 125 wRC+. He will now have a good chance to see if he can pass his skills on to the majors, although it’s fairly common for prospects to struggle on their first tastes of even the highly regarded major league action.
This situation now presents a big unknown for the cardinals that will need to be resolved in the coming weeks. The club are currently atop the NL Central division standings with a 37-28 record, although they are far from a safe perch. They are just a game and a half ahead of a Brewers team that is one game behind the Giants for the final Wild Card spot, which arrives tonight. With the trade deadline just six weeks away, the Cards will have to decide if their internal options are enough to see them through the final months of the season. Of course, much of that will come down to how Molina’s knees recover and how Knizner and Herrera fare in the next part of the game, although if neither of this trio looks capable of taking work, the Cards may have to seek outside help. .