Cardinals GM John Mozeliak addressed the contract situation of long-time catcher Yadier Molina with Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Though he declined to address specifics of any extension talks, Mozeliak emphasized that the club is “always open for business.”
That comment largely confirms the status quo; it has long been assumed that the Cards would attempt to work out a new contract for Molina, whose former extension includes only a mutual option for 2018. As camp opened, the sides were said to have begun at least preliminary talks, and agent Melvin Roman said recently that “both sides are trying to work hard and see if we can make it happen.” At the moment, Molina is away from the club while he competes with the Puerto Rican entrant in the World Baseball Classic.
But Mozeliak did also make clear that the organization wouldn’t put any timelines on talks. “We are not a deadline organization, historically,” he explained. “So, as far as timing and how that goes, I’m not drawing any lines in the sand.” Whether or not Molina and his representatives would be amenable to continuing discussions into the season remains to be seen, though Mozeliak’s comments seem to put that possibility on the table.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals GM didn’t express any alarm at recent comments from former big leaguer Bengie Molina, who suggested his brother would test free agency if he didn’t receive an offer to his liking. That’s to be expected, Mozeliak indicated. Much as the Cardinals star will be looking out for his own interests, the veteran exec says he’ll be “trying to do what’s best for [the Cardinals] organization,” noting that “there is always a short-term approach and a long-term approach” that must be accounted for even as he acknowledged Molina’s importance to the team.
Molina’s central role and workhorse approach present a somewhat unique situation. At 34 years of age, it’s at best questionable whether Molina can continue to thrive while playing 130 or more games annually. And the team has a prized prospect on the way in Carson Kelly. Figuring out how lengthy a commitment to make, and at what price, isn’t straightforward for the Cards. Molina’s current contract paid him $75MM over five years, with the final $2MM of that guarantee coming in the form of a buyout of the $15MM mutual option.