The Cardinals and long-time catcher Yadier Molina agreed to a one-year contract extension through the 2022 season, the club announced on Tuesday. While terms of the deal were not disclosed, the one-year pact will be worth $10 million, according to Katie Woo of The Athletic. The deal ensures Molina will stay with the Cardinals for his 19th MLB season. It will also be his last.
On Wednesday, Molina himself confirmed 2022 will indeed be his final season. He intends to retire after next year.
"Yes, yes, it will be my final season," Molina told reporters, including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, during a conference call Wednesday. "I want to finish here in this great organization."
Yadi says he hopes to bring one more world title back to St. Louis in what will be his swan song. "It will be my final season. ... I want to finish here in this great organization."— Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) August 25, 2021
TV: Bally Sports Midwest
App: Bally Sports app#STLCards pic.twitter.com/hQzeggnhVb
The 39-year-old stalwart was a fourth-round pick by the Cardinals out of Ladislao Martinez High School in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico in 2000. He then made his way, quickly, though the Cardinals' system and debuted in 2004. He's now in his 18th year with over 2,000 regular-season games with the Cardinals.
"On behalf of the Cardinals and our fans, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Yadier Molina will continue his franchise legacy for another season in 2022," Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt said in a statement released by the team. "Yadi has continued to play at an All-Star level this season, and has already established himself among the greatest players to have ever worn the birds on the bat."
This year, Molina enjoyed an offensive renaissance early in the season, hitting .339 with a .661 slugging and five homers through his first 18 games. At the moment, he's hitting .259/.304/.376 (89 OPS+) with 16 doubles, eight homers and 51 RBI through 94 games. Molina was named an All-Star in 2021 for the 10th time in his career.
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Molina still rates out as an above-average defensive catcher, according to most metrics and throws out would-be basestealers at a much higher rate than the league average. We can't really quantify what his leadership means to the clubhouse or how well he works with the pitching staff, but there's long been value assigned to Molina on these fronts.
A 10-time All-Star and a nine-time Gold Glove winner, Molina is currently fourth all-time in games caught,. Here is the career games caught leaderboard:
- Ivan Rodriguez: 2,377
- Bob Boone: 2,161
- Carlton Fisk: 2,157
- Yadier Molina: 2,039
- Gary Carter: 2,019
- Jason Kendall: 2,013
No other players have caught 2,000 games in the big leagues. As long as he stays healthy this year and next, Molina has a good chance to move into second place on the games caught leaderboard before retiring. Since his first full season in 2005, opponents have attempted 453 fewer steals against the Cardinals than any other team. That's how much opponents respect Molina's arm.
Furthermore, Molina ranks eighth all-time in hits (2,090), 12th in total bases (3,005), 15th in RBI (983), and 27th in home runs (168) among players who played at 60 percent of their career games at catcher. By FanGraphs WAR, which includes framing, Molina is a top-10 catcher all-time. He owns two World Series rings (2006 and 2011) and has played in 101 career postseason games.
Once he retires, Molina will have to wait the requisite five years to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. A lot can and will change between now and 2027, though at a minimum Molina deserves serious consideration for Cooperstown. Given his incredible longevity and steady production, he has a good chance to be voted into the Hall of Fame.
The Cardinals head into Wednesday with a 63-61 record, 13 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. They are, however, within striking range of a wild card spot, sitting 4 1/2 games back of the Reds for the second one.