Molina, who is approaching the final season of his current multiyear deal, talked at length on Sunday about his desire to remain a Cardinal and his willingness to reopen contract negotiations during Spring Training. He indicated, though, that the latter is likely only to happen if the Cardinals initiate.
"I think they would have to come to me and start talking to me," said Molina, who is set to earn $7 million in 2012. "I'm open to talk. We were talking for the last two weeks, and we are no longer talking. I'm just trying to concentrate on winning another championship and not worry about contracts. For now, we've stopped talking."
Molina's approach to these discussions differs from the one Albert Pujols held last year. In an effort to try and minimize potential distraction, Pujols told the Cardinals last winter that he would not negotiate a new deal after he reported to Spring Training. The first baseman held firm to that stance, which ultimately led the way to Pujols leaving St. Louis in December.
While leaving the door open to reengaging in talks this spring, Molina did say there would be no hometown discount. He does not intend to take less than he believes he is owed simply to stay with the only organization he has ever known.
"I have a ton of respect with the front office," said Molina, who added that he learned a lot about the negotiating process by watching Pujols, a long-time teammate and close friend, go through it last year. "I know they would like to get it done with me and same to me. I would like to work something out and try to stay here. But at the same time, this is business for them and this is business for me, too."
Molina would likely be the gem of the catching market should he opt to test free agency next winter.
The 29-year-old is a four-time Gold Glove Award winner and three-time All-Star. He is also coming off the best offensive season of his eight-year career. In 139 games, Molina hit .305 with 32 doubles, 14 homers and 65 RBIs. All those numbers represented career highs.
Molina also led all National League catchers with 132 starts behind the plate.
"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," manager Mike Matheny said of Molina's contract situation. "But 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."