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Yadier Molina, Cardinals Reportedly Discussing 1-Year Contract Extension

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 19, 2021

Ron Schwane/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals and team legend Yadier Molina are reportedly "in discussions" about a one-year contract extension for the 2022 MLB season.

Katie Woo and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Thursday that Molina, 39, is seeking a salary that at least matches his $9 million for 2021.

The 10-time All-Star catcher entered free agency after the 2020 season, and there were serious questions throughout the winter about whether the Cards would have the financial flexibility to bring him back.

In January, Molina told Cardinals broadcaster Polo Ascencio in a Facebook interview (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) he wanted to return to the only MLB club he's ever known but was open to retirement if the right offer didn't arrive.

"Getting ready as always and God will tell," Molina said. "If God wants me to come back, then I'll come back. And if not I will retire happy with my head held high."

St. Louis and the future Hall of Fame backstop came to terms in February on the one-year, $9 million deal.

Molina was selected by the Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2000 MLB draft and made his major league debut in 2004. Along with the 10 All-Star appearances, he's also won nine Gold Glove Awards and helped the franchise win World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

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The Puerto Rico native is no longer the offensive threat he was during his prime—he's posted a .681 OPS with eight home runs across 91 appearances in 2021; his career-high totals in those categories are .874 and 22, both in 2012—but he's remained an above-average defender with a plus-five DRS (defensive runs saved), per FanGraphs.

Molina also continues to serve as one of the Cards' clubhouse leaders alongside Adam Wainwright, 39, who also hit the free-agent market before re-signing in late January.

St. Louis doesn't have a clear replacement for 2022, as Ivan Herrera, their top catching prospect, is in Double-A. Herrera has showed promising pop with 13 homers in 79 games this year, but he's hitting .227 and could benefit from more seasoning in the minors.

In turn, it makes sense for Molina to return for at least one more year, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Cardinals keep him around for 2023 to split duties with Herrera, as well.

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