Giants, Molina agree to one-year deal |

Giants, Molina agree to one-year deal

SAN FRANCISCO – In an unexpected twist, Bengie Molina is coming back to the San Francisco Giants.

The free-agent catcher reached a preliminary agreement with the Giants on a one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical and had not been completed.

It’s a surprising move for both sides, because Molina had been negotiating a deal with the New York Mets only days ago. The Mets offered one year with a vesting option, but Molina wanted two years guaranteed. He had hoped to land a three-year contract this offseason, and Giants general manager Brian Sabean had said the veteran catcher wouldn’t return.

“That ship has sailed,” Sabean said at the winter meetings last month.

KPIX TV in San Francisco first reported Molina’s deal.

The Giants also agreed Tuesday to a $2.1 million contract with left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, avoiding arbitration. Sanchez threw a no-hitter on July 10.

San Francisco has two players in salary arbitration: ace Tim Lincecum and closer Brian Wilson. Lincecum asked for a record $13 million after winning the past two NL Cy Young awards, while the Giants countered with an $8 million offer. Wilson asked for $4.875 million, while the Giants countered with a $4 million offer.

While Molina appeared set to join the Mets, the Giants came back into the picture only recently.

Molina said late in the 2009 season that he would like to stay in San Francisco if shown he was wanted. Right away, Sabean ruled out giving Molina more than a one-year deal with Buster Posey set to be the club’s catcher of the future.

The 35-year-old Molina batted .265 with a career-high 20 home runs to go with 80 RBIs last season as the cleanup hitter in his third year with the Giants and 12th in the big leagues.

Molina’s previous $16 million, three-year contract ended after last season and he became a free agent. He also said he would like to retire as a Giant.

San Francisco was never prepared to make such a commitment considering Molina’s age and health concerns. The Giants were ready to move forward with Posey, the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft, if no other opportunity emerged. Yet Sabean had said this winter he didn’t think Posey was ready to be a full-time major league catcher and would prefer he start the season with Triple-A Fresno to gain more experience.

Posey hit .325 with 18 homers and 80 RBIs in the minors last season and played seven games with San Francisco in September.

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