Yadier Molina joins New Balance team

Yadier Molina’s five-year, $75 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals caused ripples of concern across MLB when it was announced in the spring of 2012.

Times have chanced since. As Molina reinforces his defensively-generated reputation as the best catcher in the game by also leading the National League in hitting, any contract-related fretting has melted away.

With some of his additional cash, Molina has established a charitable foundation as well as started a record label. The catcher also purchased a Florida mansion for over $7 million.

Despite his high profile across Major League Baseball, Molina has had few, if any, commercial endorsements to augment his considerable salary. This has been an ongoing challenge for many Hispanic athletes, as outlined in this recent ESPN article.

Further complicating matters for Molina may include St. Louis’ status as a non-major media market, his halting English and mysterious neck tattoos. Yet, the 30-year-old (he turns 31 on the 13th) is arguably the most popular current Cardinals player.

Molina’s endorsement portfolio received a boost on Monday as New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. announced Molina and Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett are joining its roster of pitchmen.

Still, it remains to see how significant the new arrangement will be since New Balance notes it has already signed 450 other professional baseball players.

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