St. Louis Cardinals Beat Writer
The Cardinals signed veteran switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters to a minor league deal, making him the likely backup to Yadier Molina. Molina had off-season knee surgery, and is going into his 16th season behind the dish for the Cards. Depending on how well Yadi is recovering from his surgery, Wieters could wind up as the Opening Day starter for St. Louis, which would make him only the fourth different starting catcher for the franchise since 2000.
Another option for the Cardinals is Francisco Pena who has major league experience, and could challenge for the backup to Molina once he is healthy. However, Wieters has proved to be a solid catcher over his years of experience, holding a career 18.0 WAR and had a 0.6 WAR last year.
Another impact as a result of signing Wieters is what happens with prospect Andrew Knizner. Knizner was drafted in the seventh round out of North Carolina State in the 2016 MLB Draft. The Cardinals front office seems to like Knizner a lot, especially after trading away other top catching prospect Carson Kelly to the Diamondbacks as a part of the Paul Goldschmidt trade. Knizner could have challenged Pena for the backup spot this year, but now can spend another year in the minors to develop. In his 3 years in the minors, Knizner has a .310 average across all levels, from rookie ball all the way up to AAA last season. Look out for Knizner in the future, as he may be the next Cardinals catcher to start Opening Day once Molina eventually retires.
Braden Zimmerman is the St. Louis Cardinals Beat Writer for The Duogut. He also covers Major League Baseball.