Yadier Molina claps back at Cubs catcher: 'Respect the ranks'

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina responded to Cubs catcher Willson Contreras’ proclamation that he wants to be the best catcher in MLB. (AP)

Here’s a fun new wrinkle in the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs rivalry: Cards captain Yadier Molina and young Cubs catcher Willson Contreras are engaged in a little offseason war of the words.

Contreras started it by saying over the weekend that he wants to be “the best catcher in the game for a long time” and Molina responded on Instagram on Wednesday with a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez that was captioned, “Respect the ranks!”

Ahh, yeah, this is could get good in 2018.

Let’s go back for the entire blow-by-blow. On Saturday at the Cubs Convention, Contreras told Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times:

“I know that I have a lot of talent,” he said, “and I thank God every day for giving me this kind of talent that I have. In my mind, I want to be the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”

“I used to watch a lot of those guys, but now I’m watching myself because I know that I’m going to be better than them. That’s my plan.”

Now, there’s a difference between a diss and self-confidence and this seems more on the side of self-confidence than unleashing a catcher’s version of “Hit ‘Em Up.” Heck, Contreras is saying he wants to be like Molina.

Nonetheless, Molina clapped back on The Gram with his picture and a caption that translates to: “Respect the ranks, novice. Here with those who have proven themselves to be hard.” Or, translated a different way: “Respect the ranks, kid. Here’s me and the guys who have proven to be the best.”

A couple points to make:

1. Molina definitely has the better résumé, as Contreras is a 25-year-old entering his third full season. He’s won a World Series with the Cubs, but doesn’t have much other hardware. Molina, 35, has eight Gold Gloves and All-Star appearances, four Platinum Gloves, two World Series wins and a Silver Slugger. He’s legit.

2. These guys are at completely different places in their career, since Yadi’s best days are behind him and Contreras’ are in front of him. In fact, during the 2017 season, Contreras was more valuable than Molina according to Fangraphs’ WAR (3.2 to 2.1).

We should emphasize: This seems like a pretty good-natured rivalry at this point. Molina likes to have fun on social media and trash talk, so this is probably not something that we’ll see turn into a brawl when the Cubs and Cardinals meet in 2018.

Well, as long as it doesn’t get more personal.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!