Jose Molina close to joining Rays

Sources: Jose Molina close to joining Tampa Bay Rays

Free-agent catcher Jose Molina is close to signing a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that includes an option for the 2013 season, major-league sources told

A deal could be completed within the next several days.

Molina, 36, is known for his expert handling of pitchers and has an intimate knowledge of the Rays’ opponents in the American League East after spending the last four and a half seasons with the Yankees and Blue Jays. He’s coming off one of the best offensive years of his career, posting a .281/.342/.415 line in 55 games with Toronto.

Tampa Bay already has four catchers on its 40-man roster: John Jaso, Jose Lobaton, Robinson Chirinos, and Nevin Ashley. But Molina will give the Rays the veteran, right-handed-hitting presence they are losing with the expected departure of Kelly Shoppach.

Catchers have been signing at a higher rate this off-season than players at all other positions: Free agents Rod Barajas (Pirates), Henry Blanco (Diamondbacks), Matt Treanor (Dodgers), Brian Schneider (Phillies), and Gerald Laird (Tigers) have already agreed to contracts for next year.

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