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As talks continue with Molina, Cardinals make annual move to add catching depth, sign switch-hitter

As talks continue with Molina, Cardinals make annual move to add catching depth, sign switch-hitter

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What once was an annual move for the Cardinals to address catching depth in their system was revived Friday when the team signed Tyler Heineman to a minor-league deal. The 29-year-old catcher received a non-roster invitation to major-league spring training.

Heineman spent this past season with San Francisco and appeared in 15 games for the Giants. Originally an eighth-round pick by Houston in 2012, Heineman has a .285 average in his eight years in the minors. In 2019, at Miami’s Class AAA New Orleans affiliate, the switch-hitting Heineman batted .341 with a 1.019 OPS in 48 games. He made his major-league debut that same season.

Signing Heineman adds depth for the Cardinals’ roster and does not signal or change anything about the team’s intent to pursue Yadier Molina’s return or have Andrew Knizner positioned as his likely backup.

Veteran Matt Wieters, a switch-hitter who has been Molina's backup the past two seasons, is a free agent.

Heineman fills the gap between Knizner and rising prospect Ivan Herrera.

A free agent, Molina has received interest from as many as four teams, and that includes the Cardinals and the New York Yankees. His agent, Melvin Roman, spoke to the Cardinals this past week, and his client has urged him to remain in contact with the club. Molina is seeking a two-year deal, and the market for him beyond the Cardinals will hinge on free-agent J.T. Realmuto and what teams do not sign one of the top talents available.

That could lengthen the time it takes for Molina to receive offers from teams other than the Cardinals.

Neither side expected the pace of talks to accelerate in the immediate future, just to continue.

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