Molina, whose contract expires at the end of the 2020 season, is not a lock to finish his career in St. Louis, Mark Saxon of The Athletic reports. Saxon notes the franchise legend could find himself elsewhere in 2021 and beyond if he "overplays his hand" in terms of salary demands. Conversely, if Molina displays a willingness to split time with a prospect such as Andrew Knizner or Ivan Herrera next season and accept a salary commensurate to a part-time role, his chances of remaining in the fold are likely to be much higher. Molina was originally slated for a robust $20 million salary this year had the season unfolded normally, so it remains to be seen if he and the Cardinals will be able to arrive at a 2021 figure that both deem reasonable.
Molina hit .212 (7-for-33) with three RBI, one walk and four runs across 12 Grapefruit League games before spring training was suspended. The veteran backstop's spring numbers, albeit poor, are very likely nothing to be concerned with at this point in his storied career. Molina showed he had plenty left in the tank last season over 113 games, slashing .270/.312/.399 with 34 extra-base hits (24 doubles, 10 home runs) and 57 RBI across 452 plate appearances. While the promising Andrew Knizner continues to bide his time at Triple-A Memphis, Molina projects to once again draw the bulk of starts this season with fellow veteran Matt Wieters giving him an occasional breather.
Molina and the Cardinals have been in contact about a contract extension that would keep the catcher in St. Louis through 2021 or 2022, Mark Saxon of The Athletic reports. Molina has graded out as more of an above-average defender than an elite one the past two years and his OPS has fallen in three consecutive seasons, but what remains of his skill set along with his ability to handle a heavy workload makes him a viable No. 1 catcher. Because of that along with the value Molina brings in the clubhouse, it's not too surprising that the Cardinals are at least considering extending him through his age-39 or age-40 season. Molina's track record of durability isn't quite as impeachable as it once was, but when he's healthy, he'll be a good bet to start five or six times per week in 2020. His ability to compile stats while consistently providing decent batting averages is enough to make him a worthy fantasy option, even in leagues that start only one catcher.
Molina went 1-for-3 with a solo home run in Tuesday's 7-4 loss to Washington in Game 4 of the NLCS. The home run came in the fourth inning off of Washington starter Patrick Corbin, who had struck out nine of the 13 hitters he had faced prior to Molina's at-bat. Molina, 37, had a very quiet postseason, slashing just .152/.216/.242 in 33 at-bats with just the one extra-base hit. His power numbers had already slipped during the regular season, including a .399 slugging percentage, indicating his days as an upper-tier fantasy catcher may be behind him.
Molina is not starting Wednesday against the Diamondbacks. Molina will give way to Matt Wieters behind the dish for Wednesday's series finale after playing all 19 innings in Tuesday's 3-2 loss, going 2-for-8 with a double and four strikeouts.