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Molina commits to being career Cardinal

Yadier Molina              [Lou Countryman photo]

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is coming to the end of a three-year, $60 million contract extension. However, don’t plan on any farewell tributes just yet for the beloved backstopper.

When Molina signed his contract extension two years ago, he said he thought that might be it. Molina figured at the time that he might retire.

Fast-forward to the present. Molina doesn’t look or sound like a guy who wants to hang ‘em up so soon.

“Two years ago I said that but I also said that if the Cardinals want me, that’s the only team I want to play for,” Molina said. “It’s still like that, too. If they want me … But if they want to move apart, that’s it for me. I would love to keep playing for the Cardinals. There’s no timetable for it.”

At press time, the team’s front office was working on a contract extension that would keep Molina behind the plate through the 2022 season. 

“Yadi has done some pretty remarkable things at his age,” Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said before spring training began. “I know in his mind he thinks he can play for a number of years and that’d be great if he can.”

At that same time, Molina said he potentially wants to play two more years. 

For Molina, it’s all about how he feels. Few catchers can understand the kind of workload Molina has consistently handled in his career behind the plate. But he is confident that his body will hold up for the foreseeable future.

“I feel good,” Molina said. “I’m 37, but my knees are good. I’m in good shape. I feel good.”

Molina caught 113 games last season, marking the third straight season in which his games caught have decreased over the prior season. His offensive production took a dip, as well. He hit .270/.312/.399 with 10 homers last year. His .711 OPS [on-base plus slugging percentage] in 2019 was his lowest since 2015. 

However, his presence behind the plate remained strong. 

A two-time World Series champion and nine-time Gold Glove award winner, Molina knows others are talking about his offensive decline. He hears. And he’s motivated by them.

“It’s easy to see a 37-year-old catcher and say he’s going to have a bad year because he’s 37 years old,” Molina said. “I have that in my mind and I try to prove the people wrong.”

His other goal for this season is one he wants for his teammates and St. Louis as well.

“To have another ring, that’s the goal for me,” Molina said. 

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