JUPITER — The Cardinals made certain another big star did not get away.
Four-time Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract Thursday that kicks in next season and will keep him in St. Louis through the 2017 season. The deal makes Molina, long known for his defense and with a much-improved bat, the second-highest paid catcher in the majors.
"When you have the best catcher in the game, you have to sign him," teammate Carlos Beltran said.
The total price tag could easily top $90 million over seven seasons with Molina due to make $7 million this year and a mutual, $15 million option for 2018. The deal trails only the Twins' Joe Mauer (eight years, $184 million) among catchers.
"I'm happy to be a Cardinal for 5-6 more years," said Molina, 29, who hit .305 in 2011 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs, and added 12 RBIs during the World Series title run. "I'm looking to like six more championships."
Molina's brother Jose, 36, also a catcher, joined the Rays this offseason.
Varitek says Goodbye: Catcher Jason Varitek spent 15 seasons as the stoic center of the Red Sox, with an icy stare that never blinked and an iron jaw that never quivered. The toughness and tenacity gave way in Fort Myers where the captain announced his retirement.
"My teammates are what I'm going to miss most," said Varitek, the 39-year-old's voice shaking and his eyes welling. "The hardest thing to do is to walk away from your teammates and what they've meant to you over the years."
He caught four no-hitters, played in three All-Star games, won two championship rings and had one memorable run-in with Yankees star Alex Rodriguez that will endear him to Boston sports fans forever.
Braun's attorney Fires back: Ryan Braun's lawyer criticized the urine collector's statement, saying the Brewers outfielder and NL MVP "was properly vindicated."
"Ryan Braun presented a winning defense in the forum that counted," attorney David Cornwell said. "The collector's attempt to re-litigate his conduct is inappropriate, and his efforts will only be persuasive to those who do not understand the evidence or the rules."
Braun escaped a 50-game suspension when his positive test was overturned by an arbitrator. The Brewers legal team argued that Dino Laurenzi Jr. did not follow the procedures specified in baseball's drug agreement. Laurenzi has defended his actions, saying he never tampered with the urine sample.
Surgery for Burnett: Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett, 35, will have surgery today to repair the fractured right orbital bone from a failed bunt attempt that caromed off his bat and into his face. There is no timetable for his return.
Santana tosses: Mets left-hander Johan Santana, who had left shoulder surgery, threw 43 pitches of live batting practice with no reports of trouble.
Indians: Outfielder Grady Sizemore is expected to miss 8-12 weeks after a "minimally invasive" lower-back procedure.