One of the key reasons behind the Diamondbacks' surprising run to the top of the NL West has been the play of Miguel Montero. The catcher entered today's action with a .278/.348/.460 line, made his first All-Star appearance and (perhaps most importantly) showed no lingering after-effects of the knee surgery that sidelined him for two months in 2010.
Montero, 28, avoided arbitration last winter by agreeing to a one-year, $3.2MM contract and he has one arb year left before hitting the free agent market after the 2012 season. Since hard-hitting catchers are a rare commodity in the game, it stands to reason that Arizona will try to sign Montero to a long-term contract. The D'Backs explored locking Montero up before 2010 but nothing came of those negotiations, possibly since the club was still rueing its last multiyear deal to a catcher.
I could see the Diamondbacks approaching Montero with a three-year contract, thus covering his last arb year and his first two free agent seasons. The total value would be in the ballpark of $21MM -- $5.5MM for 2012 (about what Montero would make in a one-year contract that avoids arbitration), $7MM for 2013 and $8.5MM for 2014. The D'Backs will probably shoot for at least one club option year, worth around $11MM for 2015. If that hypothetical option year was used, then Montero would be a free agent at age 32 and a candidate to score another multiyear deal if he's still a productive bat and able to handle the rigors of catching.
The D'Backs also face interesting arbitration cases with Joe Saunders (third year) and first-timers Ryan Roberts and Ian Kennedy this winter. MLBTR's Mike Axisa considered Kennedy's case for an extension back in July.