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Molina likely to return for third season with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- It looks like the Rays will stand pat with the catching tandem of Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton in 2014.

Molina, 38, was a free agent, but according to multiple news reports, Tampa Bay is close to completing a deal that will bring back the veteran receiver for a third season.

The Rays have long touted Molina's strengths in helping run prevention, particularly in how he handles pitchers and how he controls the running game.

Molina set a career high by starting 87 games in 2013, breaking his previous high of 81 in 2008. He hit .233 with two home runs and 18 RBIs.

In addition, Molina threw out 17 of 73 (23.3 percent) attempted basestealers, which was slightly above the Major League average of 23.1. He has a career caught-stealing percentage of 37.7, which ranks fourth among active catchers.

There have been rumors about Tampa Bay being interested in free-agent catchers Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, as well as possibly being interested in trading for Reds backstop Ryan Hanigan. Those possibilities now would seem less plausible.

With Molina in the fold, the Rays would likely head to camp with Lobaton as the starter, Molina as the backup and Chris Gimenez as the third catcher.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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