If there was any doubt after yesterday’s one-year contract extension, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina confirmed in a press conference today that he plans to retire after the 2022 season. “Yes, yes it will be my final season,” Molina plainly stated (Twitter link via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
That was the expectation the moment the deal was finalized, as president of baseball operations John Mozeliak even called the 2022 campaign Molina’s final season in the team’s press release announcing the extension. Still, it’s notable to hear the player himself publicly confirm as much.
Molina, 39, is well past his peak production but is still delivering offense that falls roughly in line with that of a league-average catcher. He’s batting .259/.304/.375 with eight homers and 16 doubles so far in 2021, walking at a 5.7 percent clip and still striking out at a 15.7 percent rate that is well south of the league average. His 43 percent caught-stealing rate behind the dish is among the best in the game.
It was strange this past offseason to consider the possibility of Molina playing somewhere other than St. Louis, but he reached the free-agent market for the first time in his illustrious career and unsurprisingly drew interest from several clubs. He’ll avoid any speculation of playing for a new club this time around, cementing himself as a lifelong Cardinal with the extension and today’s announcement.
Notably, as Cardinals fans now turn their attention to Adam Wainwright, Molina touched on the subject of his longtime teammate’s future (Twitter link via Zachary Silver of MLB.com). Molina noted that Wainwright lobbied heavily for him to return to St. Louis last offseason. “Now, it’s my turn,” Molina said in reference to Wainwright, adding that he’d “love to finish my career with him.”
Wainwright is also playing the 2021 season on a one-year contract, and he’s said in the past that he’ll need to discuss the matter with his family before determining whether he’ll continue his own career into the 2022 campaign. Through 162 2/3 innings, Wainwright has a 3.10 ERA, three complete games and a shutout. He’ll turn 40 next Monday.