D-backs, Montero Still Working on Extension

The Arizona Diamondbacks bought themselves another month-and-a-half to work out a long-term contract extension with their All-Star catcher by signing Miguel Montero to a one-year deal just before their scheduled arbitration hearing. Montero has imposed a March 20 deadline to finalize an extension, at which point he will focus all of his energy on the upcoming season.

The Diamondbacks agreed to a one-year, $5.9 million contract with All-Star catcher Miguel Montero to avoid arbitration, but that does not mean the sides are done talking about a multi-year deal.

D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said he hoped to continue discussions this spring on a contract that would lock up Montero for several more years. Montero indicated that he was amenable to such a proposal even though the sides did not get particularly close on a long-term agreement during their attempts this winter.

"I would say there is probably more of a gap on dollars versus term, but we've got a lot more time to work that out than we did over the last couple of weeks," Towers said. "It is still something that we want to do. I think it is something they want to do. I normally don't like to negotiate during a season. I want the focus to be on the team and playing games. Hopefully we can re-engage once again. I think Miguel likes it here, and we like him here."

Montero filed for a salary of $6.8 million while the D-backs countered at $5.4 million. Had the process gone to a hearing, the arbitration board would have picked one of those numbers after hearing arguments from both sides.

"We're going to listen and see where we are at," Montero said. "If it works out, it works out. If it doesn't work out right now, for sure they are going to be my first option in the offseason. I'm going to try to not talk anymore about long term after March 20, just because I want to prepare myself mentally for the season. I don't want anything to bother me to start my season."

Montero led National League catchers and was second among major league catchers with 36 doubles and 86 RBI. He also led the NL with a .830 OPS and by throwing out 40 percent of the runners attempting to steal against him. He made $3.2 million last year.

Montero's 2011 numbers compare favorably with those of St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and Atlanta catcher Brian McCann, although his situation is different. While both Molina ($7 million team option this season) and McCann ($8.5 million this year, $12 million team option in 2013) will make more this season, they are at the end of long-term contracts, not the beginning.

SNAKE BYTES

--3B Ryan Roberts and the D-backs settled on a one-year, $2.0125 million contract to avoid an arbitration hearing. Roberts, in his first year of arbitration eligibility, almost quintupled his salary after making $423,500 in a season in which he was one home run and two stolen bases short of a 20-20 while hitting .249 with 65 RBI. "I'm not going to lie and say I didn't think about it every single day," Roberts said of the arbitration process. "I think the offseason went by really fast, but that certain thing seemed to take forever."

--LHP Craig Breslow, obtained from Oakland in the five-player trade that also brought RHP Trevor Cahill to Arizona, is the only D-back left on the arbitration docket. Breslow has asked for $2.1 million, and the D-backs filed at $1.5 million. He played for $1.4 million while going 0-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 67 appearances for the A's last season.

--C Miguel Montero will be the third-highest paid catcher in the National League in 2012 after signing a one-year, $5.9 million contract with the D-backs to avoid an arbitration hearing. Atlanta C Brian McCann will make $8.5 million in the final guaranteed year of his long-term deal, and St. Louis C Yadier Molina is to make $7 million on a team option for 2012. "It is a relief," Montero said. "We feel happy with what we got."

--General manager Kevin Towers said he hopes to re-engage with C Miguel Montero on a long-term contract this spring. Montero said his side will be glad to listen, but that he wants to cut off talks by March 20, "just because I want to prepare myself mentally for the season. I don't want anything to bother me to start my season," Montero said.

--The D-backs, who drew about 2.1 million fans in 2011, had sold 1,300 new full season tickets and had an 87 percent renewal with three weeks before spring training was to begin, president/CEO Derrick Hall said, adding that those numbers were "very encouraging."

DIAMOND STAT: March 20 -- C Miguel Montero's self-imposed deadline for negotiating a multi-year contract. He doesn't want to talk about it after that.

QUOTABLE: "I can certainly assure you there will be effort on our side as well as I think their side to try to make that happen." -- D-backs general manager Kevin Towers, on continuing negotiations on a long-term deal for C Miguel Montero.


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