As expected, the Rays are likely going to make a qualifying offer to B.J. Upton and pick up the $10.25 million option of James Shields. What people were unsure about was the fate of catcher Jose Molina. That, too, looks to be settled with the report that the Rays will pick up his $1.8 million option.
Molina, 37, appeared in a career high 102 games for the Rays last season. While he didn't hit well, his .284 wOBA was in line with his career norms. Offense was never the reason Molina was brought to Tampa Bay. His contributions to the pitching staff, in the way he handled pitchers and framed pitches along with throwing out base runners, made up for what he was lacking at the plate. Though, somehow, he managed a .972 OPS in September.
The Rays are, obviously, built around pitching. The staff lead all of baseball in ERA and set the American League record for strikeouts. Having pitchers like David Price, James Shields, Fernando Rodney, etc help but someone behind the plate as intelligent and skilled as Molina sure helps as well.
It's not yet known what the Rays plan to do with the other catching position. They have many internal candidates to choose from or could venture out into the free agency or trade markets.