12/06/2006 5:21 PM ET
Giants sign Gold Glove catcher Bengie Molina to three-year deal
ORLANDO, Fla. -- In addressing a need for an established catcher, the San Francisco Giants have signed two-time Gold Glove winner Bengie Molina to a three-year contract, club Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Sabean announced today.
Per club policy, financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Molina, who is just one of four active catchers to have won multiple Gold Gloves, hit .284 with a career-high 19 home runs and 57 RBI in 117 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006. He joins Ivan Rodriguez (12 Gold Gloves), Mike Matheny (four) and Brad Ausmus (three) as the only backstops to take the honor more than twice, having claimed the American League award in 2002 and 2003.
"Bengie is the best catcher on the free agent market and we know that the success of your team is in direct correlation to how your team pitches and plays defense," said Sabean. "Obviously, he is a known commodity who will help our pitching staff and anchor our defense behind the plate, while also providing a power bat to the lineup that can drive in runs. With Mike's (Matheny) health situation, we needed to go out and do what's best for the team and make sure we're covered at catcher and with Bengie, we've now checked that box."
The 5-11, 225-pound backstop owns a .275 lifetime average with 128 doubles, 84 home runs and 419 RBI over 833 games during his nine-year big league career with the Angels (1998-2005) and Blue Jays (2006). The Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico native has posted a .280 or better average four times, while registering at least 10 home runs in five campaigns.
Annually ranking among the top offensive catchers in the American League since he became a regular in 2000, Molina finished fourth among junior circuit receivers with 19 home runs in 2006, while tying for ninth in RBI. His home run total was the most for a Toronto catcher since Darin Fletcher set a franchise record with 20 roundtrippers in 2000.
With a .994 career fielding mark, the 32-year old owns the fourth-highest fielding percentage among active catchers. In fact, Molina possessed the second-best fielding mark in the American League from 2000-2006 with a .995 mark, while ranking fourth by throwing out 30.0% percent of potential base stealers (163-for-544) during the same period.
The Arizona Western Community College product has helped guide his club to the post season on three occasions, including the 2002 World Championship with the Anaheim Angels. In 29 October contests, he has posted a .264 average (24-for-91) with seven runs, four doubles, a triple, three home runs and 12 RBI.
He is the oldest of the three Molina brothers who are all catchers in the majors. Jose succeeded Bengie as the starting catcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last year, while Yadier helped the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title.