By Associated Press - Thursday, March 30, 2017

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said he’s “hopeful” to have a new contract for Yadier Molina before opening day but said a deal was “not done” as of Thursday night.

Molina homered in a game against St. Louis’ top minor league affiliate while reports surfaced that he’s nearing a new contract agreement. Fox Sports reported during the game that Molina and the Cardinals are finalizing a three-year deal worth between $55 million and $65 million.

“We’re optimistic. We’re hopeful,” Mozeliak said. “But it’s not complete yet.”

Molina has said he wants a contract finalized before the season opens Sunday night. He said “nothing’s done” after the game but expressed optimism.

“It’s my main goal to stay here,” Molina said.

Mozeliak talked throughout the offseason and spring training about the team’s desire to reach an agreement with Molina, whose five-year contract signed in 2012 is nearing an end.

The catcher is under contract for $14 million in 2017, with a $15 million mutual option and $2 million buyout for 2018. However, both sides have little interest in simply agreeing to that option, preferring to ensure one baseball’s best backstops ends his career with the Cardinals.

An extension would likely do that for the 34-year-old Molina, who has been a part of nine playoff appearances and two World Series titles since debuting in 2004. He’s also won eight Gold Glove Awards while playing an integral role in the development on the Cardinals’ pitching staff.

The Cardinals beat the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds 9-3. Molina, Aledmys Diaz and Jhonny Peralta each homered while St. Louis piled up seven runs in the first two innings.

The Cardinals made several moves Thursday, placing pitchers John Gant (right groin), Alex Reyes (right elbow surgery), Trevor Rosenthal (right lat strain) and Tyler Lyons (right knee) on the 10-day disabled list. The Cardinals recalled right-hander Sam Tuivailala from Memphis.

Mozeliak said starting pitcher Lance Lynn threw 80 pitches in Florida and felt good. The Cardinals next play at Double-A Springfield on Friday and open the regular season Sunday night at home against the Chicago Cubs.

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