Yadier Molina smiles as a reporter asks a question. Molina and the Cardinals reached a three-year extension. (photo/Bill Greenblatt, UPI)

The St. Louis Cardinals reached agreement today with Yadier Molina, considered to be among the greatest players in franchise history, on a three-year (2018-2020) contract extension.  Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“Yadier Molina has demonstrated for many years his importance to the Cardinals organization and his ability to perform at a consistently high level on some of the games’ biggest stages,” stated Cardinals’ Chairman Bill Dewitt, Jr.  “We are pleased to announce on this special Opening Day, that Yadier will remain a St. Louis Cardinal for several more years, as he continues to add to his many career accomplishments and his franchise legacy.”

Molina, 34, has spent his entire 13-year career (2004-16) with St. Louis after being drafted in the 4th round of the 2000 free-agent draft out of Vega Alta, Puerto Rico.   Since debuting with the Cardinals in 2004, Molina has compiled a .285 career batting average with 108 home runs and 703 RBI in 1,611 games played.

Molina has been selected to seven National League All-Star teams (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) and has garnered eight Rawlings Gold Glove awards (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) and fourRawlings Platinum Glove awards (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015) for defensive excellence.

“It is with great satisfaction that we are able to announce today that Yadier Molina will remain in his proper place as the centerpiece of our team for the next several seasons,” said Cardinals’ Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak.  “His experience, leadership, work ethic and special ability to help bring out the best in those around him are qualities we value greatly, and they will remain important as we seek to win not only now, but also in the coming years, when many of our organization’s top young pitchers begin to emerge at the Major League level.”

The two-time World Series Champion (2006, 2011) has appeared in a franchise-record 89 postseason games and owns a team-record 90 career hits in the postseason, including a dramatic two-run homer in the 9th inning of the Cardinals 3-1 National League Championship Series Game 7 win over the New York Mets in 2006 that helped propel the Cardinals to the World Series.

Molina has received votes for the N.L. Most Valuable Player award in five seasons (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2016), including top-5 finishes in 2012 (4th) and 2013 (3rd).   Molina was the recipient of the National League Silver Slugger award in 2013 when he batted a career-best .319 with 12 HR’s and 80 RBI.

Yadier appeared in a career-high 147 games last season, batting a team-best .307 (8th in N.L.), as he became just one of nine catchers in Major League history to have compiled five or more seasons with a .300 or better batting mark – joining Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, Ted Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Thurman Munson and Bill Dickey.

Molina led all MLB catchers in innings caught (1,218.1) last season, his 9th-straight season with over 1,000 innings.  He also set single-season bests for games (146), starts (142), total chances (1,175), putouts (1,113) and fielding pct. (.998).

Yadier enters the 2017 season ranked among the majors all-time catching leaders in games caught (1,582), innings caught (13,254.0), putouts (10,470) and total chances (11,377).  Molina also ranks among the Cardinals all-time leaders in games played (1,611-10th), hits (1,593-13th), doubles (308-12th), home runs (108-19th) and RBI (703-13th).  He is one of just 34 catchers in Major League history to have amassed 1,500 career hits with his 1,593 hits ranking 25th all-time among Major League catchers.

Molina is poised to make his 13th-consecutive Opening Day start later this evening, trailing only Cardinals’ Hall of Famers Stan Musial (18, 1946-63) and Lou Brock (15, 1965-79).

Molina is the younger brother of former Major League catchers Bengie and Jose Molina – the only trio of brothers to have each won a World Series Championship.

Yadier participated in his fourth World Baseball Classic last month, leading the Puerto Rican Team to the tournament’s Championship Game, and he was named to the All-World Baseball Classic Team for the second time in his career (was also selected in 2013).

Entering the 2017 season, Yadier ranks 10th all-time among native Puerto Rican’s in career batting average (.285) and he is one of just 20 players from his homeland to have reached the 1,500 career hit plateau.  Yadi currently stands 20th in RBI (703) among his countrymen, just eight RBI back of his brother Bengie (711).

At the completion of this contract in 2020, Yadier would join Hall of Famers Stan Musial (22 years; 1941-63) and Bob Gibson (17 years; 1959-1975) as the lone players to have spent 17 or more seasons solely as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.