“The Cardinals have had continuing discussions” with Yadier Molina’s representatives, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, as the Cards try to find common ground with their longtime catcher on a new contract. Molina will officially hit free agency five days after the end of the World Series, giving the Cardinals roughly a week to come to terms on a contract extension that would keep Molina off the open market.
Melvin Roman, Molina’s agent, recently stated that his client is looking for a two-year deal. Molina himself indicated last April that he is willing to play for another team than the Cardinals if it means extending his career, though that also came a few months after Molina said he intended to remain a lifetime Cardinal.
It remains to be seen if the two sides can strike a deal this close to the opening of free agency, as Goold indicated that though Molina is “prioritizing a return to the Cardinals,” the veteran catcher is willing “to hear what other teams think of him.” Molina has never been a free agent during his 17-year career, thanks to three previous contract extensions with St. Louis.
If Molina did leave, could Adam Wainwright follow? The right-hander is also a free agent, and after 15 seasons in a Cardinals uniform, has also indicated a preference to remain with his longtime franchise. In a recent radio interview on the Scoops With Danny Mac show (audio link), Wainwright said he and Molina had briefly discussed their impending free agencies, with the hurler asking his catcher what his future held.
“He goes, ’I don’t know, but let’s go somewhere together.’ I said I agree, let’s go somewhere together,” Wainwright said.
These comments could simply be idle, best-case-scenario chatter between teammates, as obviously Wainwright and Molina have a strong relationship after so many years playing together. From a more practical standpoint, going into free agency as something of an unofficial package deal could be difficult to coordinate, as Wainwright and Molina are represented by different agencies. And, Wainwright continued to stress that ideally, both players would continue playing together as Cardinals.
“Neither one of us wants to leave St. Louis,” Wainwright said. “We both want to be there, so we’ll see what happens. I know that times are weird…and the payroll flexibility is probably not what Mo [president of baseball operations John Mozeliak] wishes it was, but we’ll see. I don’t know.”
After injuries threatened to derail his career, Wainwright has pitched very well the last two seasons, including a 3.15 ERA, 3.60 K/BB rate, and 7.4 K/9 over 65 2/3 innings in 2020. On the flip side, Molina has had consecutive subpar years at the plate, though his 2020 performance was undoubtedly impacted by a three-week absence due to a positive COVID-19 test.