Catcher Yadier Molina is and has been for some time the most identifiable member of the Cardinals. He’s in the discussion for best defensive catcher of all-time, and he’s developed over the years into a useful hitter. He’s already a franchise icon, and as such there’s a great deal of mutual interest in keeping Molina in a Cards’ uniform for his entire career. 

On that point, though, time is short. Molina is in the final year of the five-year, $75 million extension he signed in 2012, and he’s indicated he doesn’t want to negotiate after the start of the regular season. So if the Cardinals want to lock up Molina, then they’ll need to do within a matter of days. Regarding those efforts, here’s the scoop from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ... 

Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. told the Post-Dispatch that the team is “prepared to make a significant offer to keep him here. We’d love to have him stay.”

Goold’s story has much more, including the Cardinals’ past history of trying to re-sign franchise icons and their working relationship with Molina’s agent.

As for Molina, he remains a highly skilled defender and a cherished leader in the St. Louis clubhouse and on the field. He’s also coming off a strong 2016 season with the bat, as he batted .307/.306/.427 with 38 doubles in 147 games. He also logged a career-high 1,218 1/3 innings behind the plate. Yes, Molina is going into his age-34 season, but a lot of the core skills appear to be intact. Also, if there’s any position the value of which evades statistical detection, it’s catcher. That is to say, Molina (and other top-tier catchers) contribute in ways that go beyond the numbers. 

On the downside, an extension for Molina at this age and considering his “catcher’s odometer” will almost certainly capture his deep decline phase. He’s also a very proud player, and he seems unlikely to quietly transition to a lesser role as he ages. It’s also worth noting that the Cardinals have in their system Carson Kelly, who’s widely regarded as the top catching prospect in the game. Kelly’s also 22 and last season reached the Triple-A level -- i.e., he’s almost ready. Looking ahead, though, if the Cardinals do re-up with Molina and wind up contending this season as expected, then perhaps Kelly turns into a valuable trade piece when it comes to making near-term improvements at the deadline. 

It’s a complicated situation, but by the sounds of things Molina and the Cardinals will soon have clarity.