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Jose Molina Officially Signs With Rays; Andrew Friedman Strikes Again

It took 10 days from the initial report for all the details to be finalized, but the Tampa Bay Rays have officially signed catcher Jose Molina. Jon Heyman (ESPN) broke the story, and Ken Rosenthal (FOX Sports) and Jayson Stark (ESPN) have filled in the details on Molina’s contract. Molina’s contract is a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, with a $1.5 million club option for 2013 ($300,000 buyout).

This news comes on the heels of the John Jaso-Josh Lueke trade between the Rays and the Mariners, as the Rays were likely hoping to trade away Jaso before officially announcing the deal and decreasing their trade leverage. Also, the timing of this move helps mitigate some of the bad press the Rays might have received after trading for Lueke, who committed a rape back in 2008 when he was with the Texas Rangers.

While Jaso is a better offensive player than Jose Molina, this move should improve the Rays in 2012. Molina is one of the best defensive catchers in the majors, and based on recent research on catcher defense, the difference between him and Jaso on defense is worth around 4 wins.

The Rays are only committing a guaranteed $1.8 million to Molina — considerably less the Kelly Shoppach’s $3.2 million option for 2012 — yet they managed to improve their team, add a strong defensive catcher, and add some bullpen depth. All in all, it’s been an impressive month of November for Andrew Friedman.

For a chance to chime in about this news, join the conversation at SB Nation’s fan site on Tampa Bay, DRaysBay.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.