St. Louis Cardinals

Yadier Molina says he’s ready for 2017 — and to be a Redbird for life

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina talks 2017

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina talks about the 2017 MLB baseball season, which will be his 14th Major League Baseball season in St. Louis, MO playing at Busch Stadium near southern Illinois.
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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina talks about the 2017 MLB baseball season, which will be his 14th Major League Baseball season in St. Louis, MO playing at Busch Stadium near southern Illinois.

Catcher Yadier Molina is signed through the 2017 season and holds a mutual option for 2018 with his longtime employer, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Molina, 34, wants to retire as a Cardinal, and to that end, he is wide-open to beginning discussions about another long-term contract.

“I want to stay here. Everybody knows that,” said Molina, a seven-time All-Star and eight-time recipient of the Rawlings Gold Glove award. “This year’s going to be one of the most important years of my life, my career. I’m preparing myself to do the best I can to help the team win. I’ll try to concentrate on that. The outside stuff, I can’t control right now.”

I want to stay here. Everybody knows that. This year’s going to be one of the most important years of my life, my career. I’m preparing myself to do the best I can to help the team win. I’ll try to concentrate on that. The outside stuff, I can’t control right now.

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina

Molina, heading into his 14th season, has seen many longtime teammates come and go, most recently Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia. He has no interest in playing elsewhere.

“My desire to stay? Yes, I would love to stay,” he said. “One hundred percent, I want to stay here. (But) this is a business. Whatever they feel they can do to help the team, they’ll do it.

“I’ve been on this team for many years. I’ve played with many teammates that come over here and way to stay and don’t have the pleasure of staying. I would love to stay. I would love to work out something with them. Hopefully, we do it.”

Asked why this season is so important to him, the occasionally playful Molina grinned widely and replied, “that’s the way I think every year.”

Yes, I would love to stay. One hundred percent, I want to stay here. (But) this is a business. Whatever they feel they can do to help the team, they’ll do it.

Yadier Molina on remaining with the St. Louis Cardinals

Molina said the Cardinals will be “much better” this season with the free-agent additions of center fielder Dexter Fowler and left-handed reliever Brett Cecil.

“I was so happy to get those guys on our team,” Molina said. “We’re very good with them. I can’t wait to see what happens. I can’t wait to get to spring training to get to know them.”

Another teammate Molina is looking forward to watch again is right-hander Carlos Martinez, who was 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA in 31 starts.

Martinez said Sunday at the Winter Warm-Up that he wanted to win the Cy Young Award.

“For sure, he can,” Molina said. “He can do whatever he wants to do in the game. Let me tell you that. He’s got some skill. He’s one of the best young right-handed pitchers I’ve ever caught. He’s got electric stuff. He’ll have to be more consistent.”

Molina and pitcher Adam Wainwright have made 217 starts together, the most ever by a Cardinals battery, even ahead of Bob Gibson and Tim McCarver.

“Wow. That’s a lot,” Molina said. “Hopefully we’ve got 20 more. No, I meant to say 35 more.”

Molina was then told that Wainwright said Sunday night that he wanted to play seven more seasons. Wainwright would be 42 at that point.

“He can do it. He’s not a catcher, right?” Molina said.

Molina intends to be in spring-training camp with the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., for two to three weeks before leaving to compete for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Among his Puerto Rico teammates will be the Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez, the Houston Astros’ Carlos Correa and the Cleveland Indians’ Francisco Lindor.

“We’ve got a pretty good team,” Molina said. “We’ve got a pretty good mix (of young and old). It’s going to be fun.”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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