Heyman: Cardinals and Yadier Molina have preliminary extension talks

July 20, 2016: St. Louis Cardinals Catcher Yadier Molina (4) [4199] is excited coming back to the dugout after hitting a home run during game 1 of a MLB doubleheader between the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire)

JUPITER, Fla. — Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina’s agent Melvin Roman and general manager John Mozeliak had preliminary talks about a contract extension for the iconic player.

The sides will remain engaged this spring, with both suggesting talks will likely be confined to the spring training that just began.

While there are hopes to do something in spring — they worked out a five-year, $75 million deal in spring training five years ago — it seems they are considering the start of the season an unofficial deadline.

“Obviously Yadier’s been in the organization a long time and we’ve had a relationship going back years with Melvin. And if there’s hope to do something mutually beneficial before the season, we will try to do that,” Mozeliak said.

Roman, reached by phone, acknowledged the meeting but said he aimed to keep things under the radar at present.

Mozeliak called the talk “very preliminary.”

Molina, who can become a free agent at season’s end, became the second-highest-paid catcher, behind Buster Posey, when he signed five springs ago, helping set the stage for free-agent deals for Brian McCann and Russell Martin.

The Cardinals embrace their great stars, but they have treated negotiations like a business, bidding Albert Pujols adieu before seeing him get a more lucrative deal with the Angels in the 2011-12 winter, and declining to bid on Matt Holliday last year.

Manager Mike Matheny acknowledged what a “great” presence Holliday was “for the club and community” while addressing the media Friday here.

Molina, 34, has been the backbone of the team, helping the Cardinals win a couple World Series, and he had a nice year again last year in his age-34 season.

Molina is being honored in his Puerto Rico homeland this weekend, and is expected back in Cardinals camp Friday, according to Matheny.

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