The Arizona Diamondbacks and their 28-year-old All-Star catcher, Miguel Montero, were unable to reach an agreement on a multi-year extension, so there will be no more negotiations until the end of the season.
By then he will be a free agent, and given the shortage of quality backstops in MLB, he will be very much in demand.
Two out of his past three seasons (2009 and 2011) have landed Montero among the top 10 at his position, according to ESPN. He did suffer a bit of a down year in 2010—partly caused by a sophomore slump, partly by knee problems.
For 2012, the parties agreed to a one-year, $5.9 million deal minutes before his arbitration hearing was supposed to begin.
GM Kevin Towers told ESPN.com, "There's certainly still a desire to have Miguel Montero here beyond the 2012 season. We just didn't want it to be a distraction."
For his part, Montero said he is not disappointed and has no "hard feelings."
This brave front is reminiscent of the similar stance taken last year by the Cardinals and Albert Pujols, who tabled contract discussions during the season "to avoid distraction." I guess that worked, seeing as how St. Louis won the World Series, but Pujols is now with the Los Angeles Angels.
In the interim, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Cards have agreed to a five-year extension with their catcher, Yadier Molina, who is also scheduled to become a free agent after the season. The deal is reportedly worth $75 million.
Towers denied the Molina deal affected the Montero negotiations, saying, "We can't be affected by what goes on with other ballclubs."
That assertion sounds ridiculous. As Mike Axisa writes on RiverAveBlues.com,
"Assuming Yadi’s deal is finalized at the reported terms, the happiest people in baseball will be [Russell] Martin, Mike Napoli, Miguel Montero, and their agents. The catcher salary bar has just been raised substantially, to the point where these guys could ask for $10-12M annually before they even hit the open market after the season. Given the dearth of quality catching around the league, the bidding could get to be outrageous in free agency."
Will they lock horns next offseason over Miguel Montero?
Here are seven factors to consider.