Cardinals seeking catching depth while Molina’s recovery progresses

Yadier Molina has undergone two offseason thumb surgeries.
Jeff Curry/Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is recovering from a second thumb surgery this offseason, and while an official timetable hasn’t been set, he is schedule to have his cast removed in February, according to MLB.com.

Earlier in the offseason, the Cardinals expressed their hope Molina would be ready in time for Opening Day. Instead of directly jumping back into baseball activities in spring training, Molina is expected to focus on building strength. With Molina still expected to miss game action in spring training, backup Brayan Pena, who signed a two-year, $5 million deal in November, will take over as starter in his absence. 

"I’m not all that concerned about Yadi, so I don’t want to put this huge darkness on whether he may or may not be ready," GM John Mozeliak told MLB.com. "I think once he gets this cast off, we’ll get a much better feel for when he is ready. It’s going to be weak. But then the question is, ‘Can he get stronger?’"

Preparing for the worst, St. Louis is seeking to add depth at the catcher position should Molina’s recovery spill into the regular season. Mozeliak has acknowledged the search has been difficult due to Molina still due to come back with Pena already in the mix.

"The hardest part is really identifying when Yadi is going to be back," Mozeliak said. "It’s always hard to go out and sell opportunity when you don’t know, so I don’t think anybody is looking at our situation as a place they hope to end up in. And that makes sense. But I do think from an internal standpoint, adding another catcher between now and Spring Training is something we don’t want to ignore."

With the problems adding catching depth, the Cardinals may instead look towards the farm system or a waiver claim. Currently, the only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Mike Ohlam, who has never played about the triple-A level.