Though he'll be hanging up the chest protector at the end of the Cardinals' season in a few weeks, it won't take long to find Yadier Molina back in the dugout. On Thursday, it was announced that Molina would become Puerto Rico's manager at the 2023 World Baseball Classic tournament -- ensuring that Molina would be in uniform for Puerto Rico at every World Baseball Classic that's been held.
Molina first appeared in the World Baseball Classic with Puerto Rico at the inaugural event in 2006, when the catcher was just 23 years old and had yet to post an OPS over .700 in a Major League season. He then returned in 2009, before being named to the All-World Baseball Classic Team in 2013 and 17 -- both years when Puerto Rico finished as runners-up for the title. Now, in charge of managing the lineup and not just the pitching staff, Molina will hope to finally bring home a championship.
Though Molina has often been thought of as a second manager for the control he takes of the team from behind the dish, he'll actually have some real managerial experience before the tournament. Molina is expected to manage Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League this winter.
Molina will be joined by new Puerto Rico general manager Jose Sola, who was recently the manager for Puerto Rico's U-15 team at the WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup, where it finished fifth. Sola replaces Eduardo Perez, who recently resigned from the position.
With final rosters not due until December, Sola and Molina will have plenty of time to put together a team that is expected to be one of the favorites at the 2023 tournament. Javier Báez and Edwin Díaz have already committed to play for Puerto Rico, while Marcus Stroman -- who won the MVP Award at the 2017 tournament with the United States -- intends to switch teams and play for Puerto Rico in '23.