Cards ink Molina to 5-year deal

A year ago at this time, the St. Louis Cardinals held a news conference to discuss why they were unable to complete a long-term contract for first baseman Albert Pujols.

Everyone knows how that story ended — Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

But the Cardinals’ talks are proceeding more smoothly this spring with another of their All-Star position players, catcher Yadier Molina.

The Cardinals and Molina finalized a five-year, $75-million extension, according to a major-league source. The club has scheduled a press conference at 2 p.m. ET to officially announce the new deal.

The deal gives Molina the second-highest average annual salary ever for catcher, behind the Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer, who averages $23 million per year.

Molina, 29, would have been eligible for free agency at the end of the season.

Only six catchers have signed long-term deals with salaries that exceeded $10 million per season — Mauer, Mike Piazza, Jason Kendall, Jorge Posada, Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Varitek.

Molina is coming off a career-best offensive season. He batted .305/.349/.465 last season with a career-high 14 homers.

In addition, Molina won the Platinum Glove, an award voted by fans to the best overall defender in the National League. Lastt but not least, he was the catcher for the Cardinals’ World Series championship teams in 2006 and ’11.