After previously stating that he only planned to play for the St. Louis Cardinals for the rest of his career, Yadier Molina has reportedly changed his mind.
According to ESPN's Marly Rivera, the veteran catcher said he would consider entering free agency if he is not extended by the Cardinals. Molina's three-year, $60 million contract is currently set to expire after the 2020 season.
"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."
Before MLB suspended its season, Molina said there was a "50/50 chance" he was going to retire after his 2020 campaign. Now, staying with St. Louis through the 2022 season is his "first option," but he is open to embrace free agency if it means he can play past 2020.
"The reality is that this business is difficult for a 38-year-old catcher; my window is smaller," Molina told ESPN. "But I feel ready to keep on playing. I'm in good physical shape. My knees are good; my mind is great. Physically, I'm fine. That's why I've made the decision to play two more years."
As the MLB season remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Molina has reportedly continued to work out at his home in Jupiter, Fla., near the Cardinals' spring training complex. The nine-time All-Star said he remains confident that games will be played in 2020, and that he will be able to come to an agreement with St. Louis when the time is right.
"Health is first and foremost, and the safety of everyone, of all the fans," Molina told ESPN. "But I feel optimistic that we'll have a season. But like I said before, the priority right now is handling this pandemic. After we get a handle on that, then we can take care of business. I'm confident that St. Louis and my agent, Melvin Roman, will come to an agreement. But the most important thing right now is everyone's health and we'll talk business later on. Now there are much more important things."
MLB has yet to start its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 crisis. The league is reportedly mulling a plan to start playing games in late June with realigned divisions.