As things stand, Cardinals fixture Yadier Molina is slated to enter the 2020 season as a contractual lame duck. But that could change in the coming months, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
The 37-year-old Molina, who’ll again pair with Matt Wieters after the latter’s recent re-signing, says he has no intention of suiting up for another organization in the future. If the St. Louis org decides to move on before Molina has had his fill of playing, he says he’ll hang up his spikes.
But Molina doesn’t expect that time to come in the near future. He indicated to assembled reporters that he thinks he can keep catching for at least two more MLB campaigns. And Goold reports that both player and team expect to hold discussions in camp on a new contract that would keep Molina under contract for 2021 and include some sort of option for yet another campaign beyond that point.
There were some signs of decline in 2019. Molina turned in one of his weaker hitting performances, slashing just .270/.312/.399 in 452 plate appearances. Molina continues to shine at blocking errant pitches, but defensive grading systems paint him as a roughly average performer in the realms of framing, and controlling the running game.
That said, Molina has trended south with the bat before only to recover. Even in a down year, he was still an acceptable performer for a backstop. And it’s awfully difficult to say that the legendary veteran is merely an average presence behind the dish, even if that is true in terms of physical skills. Molina is not only considered a clubhouse leader with few peers, but plays a critical — and more or less unmeasurable — role in preparing and managing the Cards’ pitching staff.
It seems reasonably likely that the Cardinals will sort things out in a mutually satisfactory way with Molina, having done so already several times in the past. He has already spent 16 seasons in St. Louis and will mark his two thousandth game with the team early in the 2020 campaign. The sides have already hammered out three long-term deals. The most recent one was the most interesting, as it paid Molina a hefty $20MM annual salary over three seasons (ending in the upcoming season). It’ll be interesting to see where they settle on a new deal, if indeed one comes together.