Mozeliak, Cards still working on Molina deal

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — In the city where Stan Musial launched his career and would become a lifetime Cardinal, all eyes remained on the latest, sure-fire Hall of Famer who could well do the same.

However, general manager John Mozeliak on Friday wouldn’t commit to a conclusion on contract talks with catcher Yadier Molina, although he did express optimism.

“We’re certainly optimistic that something is going to get done. We’re still working through some things. We understand there’s a deadline,” Mozeliak said before the big-league club concluded its two-day barnstorming tour. “For me on this topic right now, I want to be careful of where I fall between being nostalgic and understanding that there is some work to be done. We certainly think it would be a great story.”

Molina and the Cardinals were finalizing a three-year extension worth between $55 million and $65 million, according to a report by MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal on Thursday. The average annual value could exceed that of Giants catcher Buster Posey‘s $18.5 million, making Molina the highest-paid catcher in the game.

Should the Cardinals and Molina reach an agreement, it would avoid a 2017 season in which Molina’s pending free agency would be a lingering topic. Molina had set a deadline for an agreement before Opening Day on Sunday.

Overall, a three-year contract would mean Molina in St. Louis through the 2020 season, which would mark his 16th with the Cardinals. He is in the final year of a 10-year, $96.5 million deal. Molina has won eight Gold Gloves, earned seven All-Star Game selections and has 59 postseason games, including guiding the club to two World Series championships.

For fans who have enjoyed the tradition of several Cardinals’ Hall of Famers spending their entire careers with St. Louis, it would be welcomed news. Musial converted to the outfield in Springfield in 1941, reached the big leagues that season and remained with the club through 1963. Bob Gibson pitched for St. Louis from 1959 to 1975.

The contract talks haven’t been overlooked in the clubhouse.

Said manager Mike Matheny, “We’re still waiting for things to happen, but we’ll see.”

“We’re hoping for him to get it done, and I’m sure he’s hoping for the same thing,” Matt Adams said. “I’m sure they’ll get something worked out before Sunday.”

Kary Booher is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cardinals on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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