The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a two-year, $4.5 million contract with catcher Jose Molina, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported last week that the two sides were in the process of negotiating a new contract, and that it was expected to be finalized soon.
Molina, who has been with the Rays for the last two seasons, is expected to be Jose Lobaton's backup next season, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. In 99 games (87 starts) in 2013, the 38-year old hit .233 with 2 HR and 18 RBI, and is expected to play less in 2014 due to Lobaton's emergence as a legitimate major league starting catcher.
Likely due to the financial restrictions of being a small-market club, the Rays were unable to pursue free agent catching options like Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Carlos Ruiz or Dioner Navarro. They had some interest in trading for Reds' catcher Ryan Hanigan, but apparently determined that a reunion with Molina would better fit their needs than a potential trade.
With Molina locked up for the next two seasons, the Rays will likely turn their attention to their first base vacancy. The team is reportedly interested in a reunion with James Loney, and could look at Justin Morneau or Mike Napoli as more expensive options at the position.