Tom Ackerman

JUPITER, Fla. (KMOX) – Upon his return from an impressive performance for Puerto Rico at the World Baseball Classic, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina spoke publicly Saturday about his desire to close discussions on a contract extension before Opening Day. Molina can become a free agent at the end of the 2017 season.

“I would love to stay,” Molina told a handful of reporters at his clubhouse locker. “But at the same time, I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank, believe me.”

Molina, 34, has a mutual option for 2018. This is the final guaranteed year of his five-year, $75 million contract he signed in 2012. But the 7-time All Star and eight-time Gold Glove award winner has clearly put the Cardinals on the clock. Once the season begins, he said, he wants to concentrate on his game and help the team win its 12th world championship – which would be his third title in a Cardinal uniform.

“I would love to stay here,” Molina reiterated. “But if they don’t want to spend their money, I understand that, too.”

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