St. Louis Cardinals: Yadier Molina Wants To Talk About A New Contract

Sep 29, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) celebrates with pitching coach Derek Lilliquist (34) and manager Mike Matheny (22) after hitting a solo home run off of Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Dan Straily (not pictured) during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) celebrates with pitching coach Derek Lilliquist (34) and manager Mike Matheny (22) after hitting a solo home run off of Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Dan Straily (not pictured) during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina wants to talk to the team about an extension to his current contract.

Yadier Molina‘s agent, Melvin Roman, wants to address the issue with the St. Louis Cardinals before opening day. Back in 2012, a five-year 75 million dollar extension was signed. This deal included a 15 million dollar mutual option, and a 2 million dollar buyout for the 2018 season.

At age 34, this deal will have to be made carefully. Last season was good for Yadi, he hit .307 with eight home runs and 58 RBIs. Due to the extra wear and tear on a catchers body, he surprisingly played in 147 games. Signs of decline are not quite showing just yet and at this point, it is fight against the clock for the beloved backstop.

Round four of the player draft in 2000 is when the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Molina. Then, four years later her made his MLB debut. He has been a career Cardinal, and with the modern day free agent market that is a rarity to see. His tenure and loyalty alone is worth heavy consideration.

His value as a leader in the clubhouse can’t be ignored either. Other players respect him a ton, and everything he has been through with the club is something that doesn’t translate to dollars and cents. Additionally, without a doubt, he can be of great assistance grooming the 22-year old catching prospect Carson Kelly.

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Before even looking at on field play, there is one aspect of a catchers job that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should: handling the pitching staff. Every pitcher is different in terms of what they throw, their tendencies, their composure, and small mechanical mistakes that they are prone to making. A catcher has to deal with all of that and the individual egos on top of it. Molina has been doing this for years and that ability is invaluable.

Defense has always been Molina’s calling card. He is an eight time consecutive Gold Glove winning catcher. A streak that was broken this year. He is also a catcher who has proven why he is nearly impossible to steal on, leading the league in percentage of runners thrown out four times. During his last season that percentage dropped off to 21 percent from around 50 in a normal year.

Molina’s bat really started to come around in 2008. Batting averages started to go from mid .200 to around or above .300. Once that happened, his whole stat line began to rise. He truly became the complete player the St. Louis Cardinals hoped he would become. In 2013, Molina finished third in MVP voting.

His postseason stats bring more of the same. Through nine appearances in October, Molina is hitting .286 and has driven in 31 runs and has been a main reason why the St. Louis Cardinals have won two World Series during his career.

It is extremely hard for anyone to think that Molina should not get a new deal if that is what he wants. Coming off the heels of a great year, it looks like he sees this as an opportunity to sign the deal that will bring him money and let him retire in St. Louis. The man has certainly earned that much from his career.

When does he plan to retire though? Catchers take a beating over course of their career. Their knees get weak from the endless squatting, their hands are constantly catching 90 plus mile an hour fastballs, they take foul balls off their body multiple times a game. Even if the decline isn’t showing yet, it will. And the odds are it will hit him like a brick wall. By nature of the position catchers tend to age faster. It simply is a hard life.

Dead money will almost certainly become a factor. Since the Cardinals play in the National League, the David Ortiz strategy of DH is not an option. Matt Carpenter is patrolling first base, so that option is gone for the forseeable future. Plus as of right now, there is not a backup trustworthy enough to want to have anyone except for Molina catching.

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As it stands, Molina is signed until he is 35 with an option for his 36-year old season. I would anticipate an extension though 2019 making him 38 and anticipating that his body would have to be all but finished. That would allow him to retire as a St. Louis Cardinal and he wouldn’t be dead money on the payroll for more than a year or two. Plus by that time, Kelly should be more than ready to take over.

There should not be a huge change in salary and by every indication this seems to be a move to retire with the team he was drafted by. A small increase with incentives is likely what Molina and his agent are looking for.  But another ring would look great with his collection, so he wouldn’t want too take up too much payroll space.

While it would appear Molina wouldn’t want a huge pay raise, he may be entitled to one. Dead money would be an issue as far as playing would go, but because his leadership can’t be put into monetary value, I say pay him. Whatever length and however much (within reason). The only question is how much that would be.

To answer that question, it is important to look at similar catchers around the league. The closest catcher talent and age wise in the league is Toronto Blue Jays backstop, Russell Martin. He is a year younger and will be making 20 million in each of the next three years. Another comparable catcher, Buster Posey, is 30-years old and set to make 21.4 million in each of the next four seasons.

The length of this extension will depend entirely on how long Molina and the Cardinals think he can contribute. My guess would be done at 38-years old and would mean he gets an extension through 2019. As for money, it is safe to assume he would want to be up near Martin and Posey.  My prediction is that Yadi will get between 19 and 21 million a year.

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As the Winter Meetings approach, a Molina extension will most likely be discussed as Opening Day draws closer.  The one undisputable fact is that if Yadi wants a new contract, he has done more than his part in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform to earn it and it just wouldn’t be right to see him with anything other than the famous birds on the bat on his chest.