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Cardinals’ Yadier Molina to retire following 2022 season

Molina will retire at the conclusion of his recently signed one-year, $10 million extension.

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina confirmed Wednesday that he plans to retire at the end of the 2022 season after signing a one-year, $10 million extension with St. Louis on Tuesday.

Molina, regarded by many as the greatest defensive catcher of all time, will finish with 19 seasons in a Cardinals uniform. The 10-time All-Star has shown his age at times this season, as he’s in the midst of his third straight below-average offensive season (89 OPS+) and has had a few key defensive miscues. But overall, he remains one of the top defensive backstops in the game, ranking fourth among qualifying major league catchers in defensive runs saved (5) and second in caught stealing percentage (42.5%).

This isn’t the first time Molina has preemptively announced a retirement date. He said back in January 2018 that he intended to play out his three-year contract and retire after the 2020 season. But his continued strong performance and a pandemic that wiped out his opportunity for a farewell tour caused him to re-evaluate, and he’s now signed two one-year deals since what was supposed to be his final season.

Now that Molina is nearing 40 years old and has seen his production dip, it seems more likely that this announcement is legit. While there’s been some debate among media members about Molina’s credentials, particularly more analytically inclined ones who cite his average offensive track record, it seems more likely than not that Molina will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame when all is said and done.

With Molina under contract, the Cardinals also presumably will try to bring back 39-year-old starter Adam Wainwright for a farewell tour in 2022. Wainwright is in the midst of his second straight dominant season, posting a 3.10 ERA while ranking second in the National League with 162.2 innings.