LISTEN: Shildt, Mozeliak respect Molina's comments, but keep focus on 2020 for now

“I certainly recognize and respect his comments and what he said. But I also feel like with everything going on the world right now, it’s hard to understand what 2021 is even going to look like.”

Tom Ackerman
May 04, 2020 - 12:20 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – I believe I was making lunch on April 29 when the alert hit my phone:

"Yadier Molina now open to new team if Cardinals not option"

Gulp!

Click.

What I saw was an ESPN story from a good reporter, Marly Rivera, who spoke with the player entering his 17th season with the Cardinals, the most for anyone not named Stan Musial or Bob Gibson.

Molina had previously told reporters that after his current contract expired in 2020, he would either sign an extension here or retire. It was Cardinals or no one. There was no other team he’d want to play for.

“I previously said that if it wasn’t with St. Louis, that I would go home,” Molina told Rivera over the phone. “But the situation with this pandemic has changed everything. Right now, I’m thinking of playing two more years.”

Ah, I thought to myself. Yadi wants to play, he’s itching to play. He doesn’t want it to end this way. The fire still burns. And he still wants to be a Cardinal.

Right?

Molina turns 38 this summer, when he plays out the final season (if there is indeed one) of a three-year, $60 million deal.

Then what? Would he really explore another team in free agency?

That’s a discussion about the 2021 season, John Mozeliak reminded me. We’re in 2020 and the Cardinals president of baseball operations, experienced in these types of negotations, will eventually sit down with Molina, the face of the franchise.

But for right now, Mozeliak is trying to figure out how to get Molina and teammates on the field.

 “At some point, we’ll have to sit down and see what works,” Mozeliak told me on KMOX’s Sports on a Sunday Morning. “But I would say that right now, for us, is not the time to be thinking about 2021. We’re just trying to get 2020 going.”

Mike Shildt, optimistic about the future, is also focused on the present. The Cardinals manager is a big believer in Molina’s value to his clubhouse beyond statistics and analytics.

“I think it’ll all work out in the end,” Shildt told me on KMOX. “I feel comfortable and confident of that. The thing we can think about now, though, is that Yadi is here at the moment and we’ll appreciate the fact that we’re going to play a season, in all likelihood, with him. Beyond that, I think it’ll all work out.”

Related: Wainwright: St. Louis is the most charitable place I've ever been

Mozeliak, who like Shildt can be heard extensively in the above audio clip, spoke evenly and fairly about Molina and the ESPN story:

“I certainly recognize and respect his comments and what he said. But I also feel like with everything going on the world right now, it’s hard to understand what 2021 is even going to look like.”

But the wheels remain in motion for a 2020 season.

“There’s definitely some momentum and urgency to start addressing what this may or may not look like,” Mozeliak said of plans to schedule a season in the midst of a pandemic. “I would imagine this week is going to be one that’s informative, might ask a lot more questions than answers, but we’re going to start going down that path.”

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