Yadier Molina wanted to stay in St Louis. The Cardinals wanted him to stay. On Tuesday, they agreed on a $10 million deal to make it happen.
The St. Louis Cardinals recently engaged in contract negotiations with long-time catcher Yadier Molina and there was said to be immediate progress, with a recent report suggesting that talks were “active” and that there was a chance a deal would be reached by the end of August.
On Tuesday, the Cardinals agreed to a one-year, $10 million extension with Molina, as first reported by Katie Woo of The Athletic, which will keep him in St. Louis for a 19th season.
Keeping Molina, 39, in St. Louis for another year was the smart thing for the Cardinals, considering that Andrew Knizner has underwhelmed in limited action and Ivan Herrera is only in Double-A and at least another year from debuting in the majors. It’s possible that Herrera could debut as early as midseason in 2022, which would make Knizner expendable via trade. His value, however, has continually dropped in recent seasons, as he is now in his upper 20s and with a limited resume at the major-league level.
That said, Molina getting more money in this contract than the one-year, $9 million deal he inked before the 2021 season is a surprise. His numbers are slightly better this year — .259/.304/.376 with eight home runs and 51 RBI this season vs. .262/.303/.359 with four home runs and 2016 in a COVID-shortened 2020 season — though he will be 40 next year and is bound to regress at some point.
It will likely be the last season Molina plays in St. Louis and perhaps even the majors before handing the reins off to Herrera. Having Molina behind the plate for one more postseason run will help the Cardinals’ chances of competing in 2022 and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them be aggressive in adding talent around Molina to further enhance those odds.
While the $10 million price tag is steep, it’s a move the Cardinals simply had to make. Molina wanted to be here. The team wanted him to be here. And unlike last offseason, there will be no doubts on where he will play the 2022 season. He’s here to stay — and possibly be one of the rare players to finish his career playing for only one franchise, further cementing what has been an incredible legacy.