01/22/10 8:45 PM EST
Molina returning to Giants, after all
Surprise deal indicates Posey likely to start '10 at Triple-A
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
"I told him I'm not here to take his spot," said Molina.
Molina, a 10-year veteran, wanted to make sure that his surprise return to the Giants didn't upset Posey, a promising but unproven 22-year-old who's still regarded as the organization's catcher of the future."No hard feelings," Molina said he told Posey. "He gave me a call back and we talked a little bit." That's Molina -- candid, open with his emotions and quick to extend himself to a teammate. That's what the Giants thought they had lost, along with his potent bat and skill at working with pitchers, when Molina became a free agent this offseason after spending three years with San Francisco. It had been assumed that Molina would sign with the New York Mets until news of his agreement with San Francisco leaked on Tuesday. Three days later, Giants general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy couldn't hide their glee. "Much like life, anything can happen," Sabean said during a conference call. "He's certainly welomed back with open arms. An interesting twist of fate." Said Bochy, "I'm just so thrilled to have Bengie back." After batting .278 with 55 home runs and 256 RBIs during his Giants tenure, Molina assumed that he'd receive multiyear offers in free agency. So did the Giants, who regarded Posey's full-time ascent to the Majors as imminent. Thus, they never seriously considered re-signing Molina and didn't offer him salary arbitration for fear that he might accept it and receive a huge raise. But on the open market, Molina found that his accomplishments meant little. He was the lone free-agent catcher rated Type A, but he might as well have been Brand X. "Nothing developed," Molina said. "Teams weren't into me." Molina said that the Mets proposed a one-year, $5.5 million deal. But he maintained his desire for a multiyear contract. "I don't understand why they didn't want to commit to another year, [given] my numbers and experience and things like that," said Molina, 35. "The only thing I can say is it's a business." Asked if he would have signed with the Mets if they offered a two-year guaranteed contract, Molina replied, "It's a good possibility." Molina said that the Giants swooped in recently, akin to lovers reuniting. "They saw that my market wasn't very successful out there. I saw the same thing," Molina said. "It was mutual." Even on a one-year deal? For the Giants, yes. "You guys know me. I'm not about the whole money thing," said Molina, who'll play this season for $1.5 million less than he did last year. "I'm about family and feeling comfortable." Molina's certainly comfortable with the Giants, though they haven't reached the postseason since 2003 and last won a World Series in 1954. "Right now, expectations of finishing over .500 should not be in our mind," he said. "Right now it should be making the playoffs and winning it."
To clear 40-man roster room for Molina, the Giants designated first baseman Jesus Guzman for assignment.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.