Thursday will be a start of a new era of St. Louis Cardinals baseball, as they are now in the post-Yadier Molina/Albert Pujols era. And for his regular-season debut for the Cardinals, which will take place on Opening Day against the Toronto Blue Jays at home, catcher Willson Contreras will be wearing a special pair of cleats to honor the man whose job he is inheriting.
“Nothing but respect to Yadi, my idol,” Willson Contreras said, per Brenden Schaeffer of KMOV.
Willson Contreras has a nice tribute to Yadier Molina ready for opening day…
“Nothing but respect to Yadi, my idol.” pic.twitter.com/I4cnaVMSYq
— Brenden Schaeffer (@bschaeffer12) March 29, 2023
Willson Contreras came over to St. Louis after signing a five-year deal worth $87.5 back in December. With Molina retiring at the end of the 2022 MLB season, the Cardinals quickly got their hands on a solid replacement in Contreras, who played his first seven seasons in Major League Baseball with the Chicago Cubs.
Contreras is coming off an All-Star campaign with the Cubs in 2022, during which he slashed 243/.349/.466 with 22 home runs and 55 RBI. He also finished that season with a career-high 128 OPS+.
Willson Contreras knows that filling in the shoes of Molina will be a tremendous responsibility given the success the Cardinals had with their former catcher. Molina was a 10-time All-Star and won nine Gold Glove awards. He also won two World Series titles with the Cardinals.
Willson Contreras, however, also has experience winning it all in the MLB, as he was part of the curse-breaking Cubs team that won the World Series in 2016 — his first year in the majors.
Willson Contreras is the fourth-highest paid catcher in the MLB when factoring in average annual value.
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