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Yadi on future: 'All I want to do is play'

@anne__rogers
April 29, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina was pretty clear at the Cardinals Winter Warmup in January: He wants to play at least two more years, and he wants to play for the Cardinals. Now he’s rethought the latter part of his stance. Talking with ESPN baseball writer Marly Rivera on Wednesday,

ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina was pretty clear at the Cardinals Winter Warmup in January: He wants to play at least two more years, and he wants to play for the Cardinals.

Now he’s rethought the latter part of his stance.

Talking with ESPN baseball writer Marly Rivera on Wednesday, Molina explained how the coronavirus pandemic and baseball’s shutdown have strengthened his desire to play another two seasons. But the stoppage, with no end in sight right now, has given Molina time to think about playing elsewhere if the Cardinals can’t extend him.

"I previously said that, if it wasn't with St. Louis, that I would go home,” Molina told ESPN. “If we were unable to come to an extension agreement, that I would retire. But the situation with this pandemic has changed everything. Right now, I'm thinking of playing two more years.

“Obviously, St. Louis is my first option. But if they don't sign me, then I'm willing to go into free agency. This situation has changed my mentality and all I want to do is play."

Molina is in the final year of a three-year, $60 million contract. The Cardinals had begun discussing an extension this spring before Major League Baseball shut down Spring Training and delayed the season. Molina, who will turn 38 in July, notified the Cardinals that he felt he had two more seasons left as the 2020 season neared, and he physically feels good enough to remain the starting catcher.

This season will be Molina’s 17th in the Majors and 16th as the Cardinals' starting catcher. A nine-time All-Star, he’s also won nine Gold Gloves, four Platinum Glove Awards and is eyeing a third World Series ring with the Cardinals. He has caught 1,947 games in his career, rising toward the all-time lead in innings caught and games as a catcher.

"Before this terrible situation happened, I thought there was a 50/50 chance that the 2020 campaign would be my last. Not now," Molina said. "The most important thing right now is people's health and getting past this pandemic. It's a very difficult situation. After we accomplish that, after we're able to start the 2020 season, then I'd like to have that conversation."

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.