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Molina wants to play several more years for Cardinals — and if not them, 'that's it for me'

Molina wants to play several more years for Cardinals — and if not them, 'that's it for me'

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Last day, best day at the Cardinal Winter Warm-up

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina autographs a giant bobblehead of himself on day three of the Cardinals 2020 Winter Warm-up on Monday Jan. 20, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

At almost the same place and in the same room where he stood and said his current contract would likely be his last contract, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina grinned, bounced a bit, and bent his knees.

He thinks they have at least two more years in them.

"I also said that if the Cardinals want me that's the only team I want to play for," Molina said. "So, it's still like that too. If they want me. If they want to move apart, that's it for me."

Molina, 37, is entering his 16th season as the Cardinals' starting catcher. He has been the backstop for one of the most successful eras in the club's history -- which has included a dozen consecutive winning seasons, four World Series appearances, and two World Series championships. Asked what he's chasing now, Molina said a third ring.

He also is burnishing a career that is likely to reach Cooperstown, N.Y., and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He's won the third-most Gold Gloves at his position in history, and he's considered the finest defensive catcher of his generation.

At the end of spring training 2017, Molina and the Cardinals agreed on a three-year, $60-million extension that concludes at the end of the 2020 season. Both sides expect to discuss an extension to that deal during spring training. It's likely they'll explore the look of an extension that reaches through 2021 and then gives the team and Molina an option for 2022, the season when Molina will turn 40.

“Well, Yadi has done some pretty remarkable things at his age," chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. "And as much as he played last year and has played through injuries the last couple of years, but we’ll see. Get the lay of the land and sort of take it as it goes. I know in his mind he thinks he can play for a number of years and that’d be great if he can.”

Molina hit .270 with a .312 on-base percentage and a .399 slugging percentage this past season. He has missed at least a month recovering from injury in the previous two seasons, and this past year he fell shy of catching 1,000 innings. Molina hit 20 homers as recently as 2018, and in 2019 he had 10 homers and 57 RBIs.

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