May 21, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero chases down a foul ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning at Chase Field. Montero would be injured on the play. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Source: #DBacks and Miguel Montero agree on five-year, $60 million extension. Press conference expected Saturday.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) May 25, 2012
If confirmed, the deal would keep Montero in an Arizona jersey through 2017. It plugs an obvious hole in the Diamondbacks line-up, with Montero becoming a free-agent at the end of the season, and no immediate obvious prospects in the farm system. Buster Olney states the deal does not include any no-trade clause.
The sides had been negotiating a deal before the season, but broke off to concentrate on the season. However, talks appear to have started up again in the past few days. The deal is for an additional year, and a great deal more money, than the four-year $32 million deal the Diamondbacks were apparently offering during spring, but is also short, on a per-year basis, of the five-year $75 million contract recently signed by Yadier Molina.
More thoughts and analysis after the jump.
It's the biggest contract extension in Diamondbacks history, surpassing the $51.25 million, six-year deal signed by Justin Upton in March 2010, and the $52.4 million, four-year one that brought the Big Unit on board in 1999. It's a bit of a change from when he was became a Diamondback in 2001 - scout Junior Noboa took the 17-year-old Montero and his father to a hotel after a one-day tryout, signing him there with a $10,000 bonus.
As John Sickels wrote, Montero "was generally seen as a catcher with an average arm and some power potential, but nothing special as a prospect overall," and he didn't even make it into Sickels' 2005 book, his notes reading "interesting bat, but doubt he can catch." But he surpassed that, debuting for the Diamondbacks as a September call-up in 2006 - his debut was a rough one, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Mind you, so was everyone's in an Arizona uniform, as that was the day Anibal Sanchez no-hit the Diamondbacks!
As we noted last week, Montero was seen as behind Chris Snyder in the D-backs depth chart for some time, but broke through in 2009, in part due to Snyder's injury, appearing in 128 games. Health issues of his own - a torn meniscus in his right knee that required surgery - limited Montero's playing time in the following season, but he did catch Edwin Jackson's no-hitter in June. He then broke out for Arizona in 2011, appearing in 140 games, hitting .282 with 18 home-runs and making his first All-Star Game appearance, getting a late call up to the roster as a replacement for Placido Polanco.
There had been serious talk between Arizona and Montero during spring, but they came to an end, by mutual consent, with the sides apparently some way apart. Montero was looking for a deal in the $12-13 million price range - something around the four-year, $50 million contract signed by Victor Martinez with Cleveland - while the Diamondbacks were offering a shorter deal, at around $8 million per year. Prospects looked bleak for him staying with Arizona, but Jon Heyman reported a couple of weeks ago that negotiations were on once more. Those now appear to have closed, with Montero getting just about everything he wanted.
It is certainly a significant risk for the Diamondbacks. shoewizard pointed out last weekend that the closest comparative players to Montero did not age well, concluding "It does tend to lend credence to the general thought that catchers decline early and are a poor bet past age 29-30... For me, a 4 or even 3 year guaranteed contract is out of the question. It’s a bad bet. And I’ve always been a big Montero fan." On that basis, a five-year deal has me looking in the direction of China for a mushroom cloud.