Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina is still going strong as he nears the end of his most recent contract extension. His representative informed the organization yesterday that Molina intends to play beyond the 2020 campaign, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
It’s not yet known just how long Molina intends to keep plying his trade; no doubt he’ll wait and see at some point. But it appears he’s convinced enough of continuing past 2020 that the sides will dedicate time next spring to working out a new contract. That’s now on the docket, per Goold.
Molina is earning $20MM annually under his present contract, which covered the 2018-20 seasons. It came as a bit of a surprise when Molina secured such a hefty rate of pay the last time around, though the prior pact came on the heels of a highly productive 2016 campaign. And it was plenty understandable that the St. Louis organization had little interest in allowing the potential future Hall of Famer to speak with other teams.
Molina has certainly not fallen apart at the seams since inking his current deal, but there is evidence that time is catching up. His offensive productivity is waning, as he has been a slightly below-average hitter (.268/.313/.426) over the past three seasons. While he’s still lauded for his exceptional overall work behind the plate and in game preparation, Molina’s framing has been average or below in recent campaigns as well.
None of that is to dispute Molina’s well-earned status as a high-quality backstop and incalculably valuable presence, even into his late thirties. But it is questionable whether the club will want to continue paying such a premium rate into the future, which could set the stage for interesting talks this spring.