Extension Candidate: Miguel Montero

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. 


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