Billy Hurst / USA TODAY Sports
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt fully believes he has the resources to keep franchise favorite Yadier Molina in St. Louis.
“(We’re) prepared to make a significant offer to keep him here,” DeWitt said, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’d love to have him stay.”
DeWitt added: “He would certainly be one of the highest-paid catchers. Part of that is (annual average value), part of it is length. That all factors into what he ends up looking for and what makes sense for the club.”
Molina can hit free agency at the end of the season by opting out of a $15-million mutual option, and despite his desire to remain with the Cardinals, he’s imposed an Opening Day deadline for when he’ll no longer negotiate.
Goold reports that Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and Molina’s agent Melvin Roman are expected to negotiate over the next few days before the season opens April 2.
Molina is entering his 14th season in the majors – all with the Cardinals – and remains one of the top catchers in the majors. He hit .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and 38 doubles in 147 games last year.
There is obvious concern with offering Molina a potential long-term contract, however. He’ll be 35 in July and has logged more than 1,500 major-league games behind the plate. Top catching prospect Carson Kelly is also believed to be on the verge of making the jump to the majors.
DeWitt said the Cardinals could look at some creative measures when negotiating a new contract to try to keep Molina with the club, and values the importance of keeping a franchise icon around.
“I do value iconic players and players who have started their career with the Cardinals and finished their career with the Cardinals,” DeWitt said. “It’s hard to accomplish in today’s world.”