It was reported earlier this week that St. Louis was in talks with Yadier Molina to finalize a historic contract that would likely make Yadi a Cardinal for the rest of his career.
Today at 2 p.m. ET, the Cardinals are holding a press conference to announce that the deal with Molina has been finalized.
It is being reported that the deal with Molina will be for five years and will range between $70 million and $75 million. A five-year deal would keep Molina in St. Louis through the 2017 season, making him the first Cardinal to be signed through that season.
Molina is widely regarded as the best defensive catcher in baseball, and has been a staple behind home plate for St. Louis since he became the everyday catcher in 2005.
Although Molina has been known mainly for his defense, the Cardinal catcher greatly improved in nearly every offensive category last season. Molina posted career highs in batting average, home runs, RBI, runs scored, slugging percentage and OPS. In addition to his batting average being a career high for Molina, he also led St. Louis in the category last year with an average of .305.
The four-time Gold Glove winner was an absolute must-sign for St. Louis. Yadi's presence behind the plate has been a key factor in the Cardinals' success over the past seven seasons, and it would be impossible to replace what he brings to the team.
If you talk to any Cardinal pitcher who had the opportunity to work with Molina, they will tell you nothing but great things about him.
Chris Carpenter, especially, always has great things to say about Yadi:
"I read a book called 'The Blind Side', and they talk about the left tackle covering the quarterback's blind side,'' Carpenter said after Game 1. "And if it wasn't for the left tackle, the quarterback wouldn't have the time to get that pass off — to make the quarterback a star, or that wide receiver a star.
Do you agree that St. Louis needed to retain Molina?
"That's what Yadi is. He's secretly behind the scenes. He just makes it that much easier. He makes me be able to go out there and do things that I do with zero concern, knowing that he is on the same page, doing the same things I do: Studying hitters, studying our game plan, knowing hitters, paying attention to what each at-bat is all about. He's phenomenal.''
Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, a man of much fewer words than Carpenter, simply described Molina as "a weapon."
With all this being said about Yadi, it is obvious why St. Louis wanted to retain him as a Cardinal. The way Molina plays defense and helps prepare his teammates is matched by few others throughout the history of the game. He is one of the most essential pieces to the St. Louis Cardinals, and is a necessity for them in the future.
Carpenter's analogy of Molina being the left tackle of the Cardinals is completely accurate. Yadi is the player that makes things run smoothly for the Cardinals. He is one of the major reasons why so many pitchers have success in St. Louis.
Molina's work ethic and talent have been recognized by the players and fans of St. Louis for years; that is why the 29-year-old is so dearly loved by the greatest fans in baseball.
Now Molina's paycheck will also indicate the type of superstar player that he is.
He certainly is well-deserving of it.