Reporting and digesting the news is generally a good and necessary endeavor. Yet in some cases, blow-by-blow reports and reactions to it can become too much. Such is the case with catcher Yadier Molina and his contract negotiations with the St. Louis Cardinals, in my opinion.
There is no doubt in my mind that the wounds inflicted by the Albert Pujols loss via free agency have not healed for many across the Cardinal Nation. That has created a heightened level of sensitivity, or in some cases paranoia, that Pujols’ friend, Molina, is destined to follow the same messy path out of town.
Of course, that could prove to pass, and has been discussed here and elsewhere, it could end up being the best outcome for both sides. After one more season of service, Molina will have earned the right to enter the market if he so chooses, as the Cardinals have the right to decide how much money over how many years to offer and when.
Or, just as easily, the agonizing would be immediately forgotten if the two sides come to terms on a new contract.
This week alone, the needle has swung wildly from one extreme to the other, then right back in the opposite direction again.
First, the word was that Molina and the Cardinals were talking and would continue to do so throughout the regular season if need be. That seemed a reasonable approach to most.
Then, the sky fell as Molina mentioned that discussions had broken off, implied there would be no hometown discount and finally gave the impression that there be no talks during the regular season. The fact that the catcher had only said the discussions had ceased “for now” seemed to be lost in the resulting tempest.
Many took the news to mean the worst, that Molina had adopted a Pujolsian stance in architecting his eventual departure via free agency.
So what did we learn just a day or two later? The two sides are still talking, after all. Not only are they talking, but the discussions are moving in “a positive direction.” Molina’s agent Melvin Roman reportedly relayed to the club a “preference” to get a deal done and not negotiate in-season. Note that the word is “preference,” not an absolute.
If one wants to interpret it this way, the two sides could be viewed as “stopping” talks every time a meeting or phone conversation on the subject ends and “re-starting” negotiations as soon as a new exchange is scheduled.
My bottom line is that many, if not most, contract negotiations have their ups and downs. As outside observers, we learn what the two sides at the table want us to learn when they want. What is happening here is standard operating procedure in a very high stakes give-and-take situation.
From our distance, wouldn’t it be better to turn down the hyper-sensitivity to what is in reality a business-as-usual process?
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