The Cardinals have picked up their $7 million option on catcher Yadier Molina, taking care of some housework for the 2012 season.
There was no way the Birds wouldn't exercize the option because, first, Molina has earned it as one of the best catchers in baseball. Second, it's the easy thing to do other than trying to renegotiate a new long-term deal while the Albert Pujols situation is on the front burner.
Hopefully the Cardinals will get the Pujols situation cleaned up sooner rather than later and then they can try to get a multi-year Molina deal done before the start of the 2012 season.
In other business, the Cardinals declined options on Rafael Furcal and Octavio Dotel.
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Furcal was a no-brainer. He's no longer the elite player he was when he signed the deal that would have paid him $12 million in 2012. I think the Cardinals might still make a play for him at a little less than half that amount. Furcal's bat doesn't seem to be what it used to be and he may no longer be a legitimate leadoff man. But there are few shortstops available on the open market and because of his age, Furcal could be a short-term option.
I'd guess the Cardinals might offer Furcal a one-year deal for $5 million on so. But he's a guy who has been used to getting a much larger paycheck. So I don't think he's going to be willing to settle for that -- unless he has no other options. Furcal wanted to play for the Cardinals at the end of the summer because he was desperate to have a chance for a World Series ring. Now he's got it, so I wouldn't be surprised to see his focus shift to getting top dollar.
I was more surprised by the decision to drop Dotel's option. The righty pitcher was a tremendous asset after he was landed in the Colby Rasmus trade... And his option was a much more reasonable $3.5 million. The Cardinals had to pay Dotel a $750,000 buy out. With the going rate for set-up man type pitchers, that buyout makes it hard to believe the club can bring him back for less total money than they would have been able to get him for by picking up the option.