Just after signing Yadier Molina to a contract extension, St Louis Cardinals executive John Mozeliak indicates it will be his last season.
The Yadier Molina one-year, $10 million extension is official and in announcing the move, St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak referred to it as Molina’s “final season” to “cement his career legacy.”
That would seem to indicate that 2022 will be Molina’s last dance. And wow, what a ride it has been.
Molina, 39, has been the definition of a St. Louis Cardinal for nearly two decades. He is widely considered as arguably the best defensive catcher in recent baseball history. While he has declined defensively, he has thrown out 17 of 40 attempted base-stealers this season, good for a rate of 42.5 which far exceeds the MLB average of 24.4 percent, as MLB Trade Rumors noted. His presence behind the plate, and his pitch framing, is a large reason why Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright have pitched so well and why the bullpen has stepped up this season.
The accolades that Molina has collected through his 18 seasons in MLB further cement his legacy. He has made 10 All-Star games, won nine Gold Gloves and has received MVP votes in four of those seasons. That he has received all those awards in St. Louis and nowhere else has solidified his status as one of the best players in franchise history, which surely played a role in their aggressiveness in re-signing him before the season ends and to avoid the frustration that stemmed from slow negotiations last winter.
Even in his 18th season, playing 2119 career games, Molina still has an impactful bat. He’s hitting 259/.304/.376 with eight home runs in 365 plate appearances, which is below his career numbers of .280/.331/.403, but was still more than enough to earn him a higher average annual value than the two-year, $18 million extension Travis d’Arnaud received from the Atlanta Braves.
Barring a change in thinking, 2022 will be Molina’s farewell tour. It should be filled with tributes, gifts and standing ovations from fans at Busch Stadium and on the road. For a player so impactful to baseball as Molina, it’s more than deserving — and will allow him to retire in a way that a legend deserves to go out.