Originally written February 19, 2012 on Fox Sports Midwest:
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JUPITER, Fla. -- The St. Louis Cardinals and All-Star catcher Yadier Molina have tabled talks for a possible contract extension, at least for now. Molina, who will make 7 million this year, enters the final year of what became a 5-year, 22.5 million deal after his option was picked up shortly after the World Series ended. "We were talking for the last two weeks and we're not talking any longer, Molina said following the Cardinals first workout for pitchers and catchers Sunday afternoon. "I'm just trying to concentrate on winning another championship, not worrying about contracts. Molina enjoyed his best offensive season of his career in 2011, setting career highs in batting average (.305), doubles (32), home runs (14), RBI (65), and runs scored (55). The Cardinals and their fans know all about one of their star players entering the final year of a contract. Slugger Albert Pujols tabled talks until after last season with the two sides weren't able to come to an agreement before spring training. Pujols eventually left St. Louis and signed with the Anaheim Angels last December, a sight Cardinals fans hope doesn't repeat this year with Molina. "I have a ton of respect of the front office, (general manager) John Mozeliak and (chairman) Bill DeWitt, Molina said. "I've known those guys for seven, eight years. I know they would like to get it done with me and the same with me. "I'd like to work something out and try to stay here because I love the city, but at the same time, this is business for them and this is business for me too. Asked earlier in the day about Molina's contract status, Mozeliak said, "I think its more open ended at this point. Our desire would be to find a way to sign him. "If we could do something early, we'll try to do something early. If not, there's always the offseason. The Cardinals would love to avoid the offseason in fear of having a similar situation unfold with Molina as it did with Pujols. But they face a tough decision on the 29-year-old catcher, who will likely command a four or five year deal for upwards of 10-12 million per season. Molina, widely regarded as the best defensive catcher in the game, became the first National League catcher to win four straight Gold Glove Awards since Charles Johnson from 1995-98. His run of four consecutive Gold Gloves is the longest current streak in baseball. Molina had two pickoffs in 2011, giving him a MLB-best 39 since the start of the 2004 season. "Obviously he had a front row seat to watch how things went last year and that's probably going to weigh on him a little bit I would imagine, said manager Mike Matheny. "Getting thrown into the business of baseball isn't necessarily a fun one for either side. It's going to be one of those things to see how he handles it because he has no idea how he's going to at this point. "The one thing I know is that he's motivated to get better. I know he's motivated to have a strong season and I can't believe the contract thing weighs that much. It's on his mind but I know he has always tried to be the best catcher that there is in the game and tried to improve on his weaknesses and when you go about it that way, the other stuff works itself out. Molina, who made his third-straight All-Star Game in 2011, arrived in camp more than a week before the required reporting date and appears to have trimmed down. Of the contract talks, Molina said, "I don't want to talk about it, but you never know in the season. Asked if he would prefer to get something done before the season started, Molina said, "Hopefully because when the season starts, you don't want to concentrate on the contracts. When the season starts, you have to concentrate on the game. The catcher said he would be open to re-engaging in contract talks if the Cardinals approached him. But one thing he likely won't do is take a hometown discount to stay in St. Louis if he feels he can make more money elsewhere. "I don't know about that, Molina said. "Like I always say, I like the town and I like the city, but at the same time, I have to think about my family. You have to worry about your family like they worry about the team. This is business. If I get good money, I'll take it. If not, I'll go away.
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