D-backs, Montero close door on extension

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – After several weeks of negotiations, Miguel Montero and the Arizona Diamondbacks have ended talks on a possible long-term contract extension, general manager Kevin Towers said Wednesday.
 
“We were unable to find any common ground. These things happen in baseball. This doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world,” Towers said.
 
“My desire, as was Miggy’s desire, is that with an important season coming up, to put it behind us until the end of the season. We’ll address it that time. I think the world of him. There is certainly a desire to have Miguel Montero here. We just didn’t want it to be a distraction. It hasn’t been good for the players when that is over their heads.”
 
At the same time, the D-backs are amenable to opening talks on long-term contracts with starting pitchers Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, a source in the organization said, although talks have not started and nothing appears imminent. Kennedy will be eligible for salary arbitration next winter for the first time. Hudson could be eligible as a “super two” player.
 
Montero and the D-backs agreed to a one-year, $5.9 million deal minutes before they were to enter an arbitration hearing in January.

All-Star catcher Yadier Molina is reported to be nearing a five-year, $75 million contract extension with the St. Louis Cardinals, a contract that could set the market going forward. Russell Martin just signed a one-year, $7.5 million deal with the New York Yankees after negotiations on a three-year extension went nowhere.

It could be argued that Montero and Molina are in the same class. Montero, 30, is coming off a career year in which he hit .282 with 36 doubles, 18 home runs and 86 RBI. He also threw out a major league-best 40 percent of the runners attempting to steal on him while making his first All-Star team. Montero leads National League catchers in doubles and is second in slugging percentage and extra-base hits since 2009.
 
“I know they were trying hard,” Montero said. “There are no hard feelings. I’m not disappointed at all. I just want to focus on my game and on my pitchers. They (D-backs) are going to be my priority in the offseason.”

Montero can be a free agent after the season, although the D-backs will have an exclusive negotiating window following the World Series before Montero could hit the open market.
 
“If this is my last year, I’ll move on. It is just part of the game,” he said.
 
“I do have a lot of confidence. I have to go out there and prove it again. I know that. I’ll take my chances and go out and play.”

KENNEDY TO START OPENING DAY
 
Ian Kennedy will start the regular-season opener against San Francisco on April 6 if healthy, manager Kirk Gibson said Wednesday, surprising no one.
 
Kennedy was fourth in the NL Cy Young voting after going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA last season. He also went 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA in five starts against the Giants last season and was 10-0 against the NL West.
 
Kennedy, last year’s Opening Day starter, had left the clubhouse before Gibson made the announcement.  

CAMP NOTES

The Diamondbacks’ young guns will fire early this spring. Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer, regarded as the D-backs’ top two pitching prospects, will pitch back to back in the D-backs’ split-squad exhibition opener Saturday at Salt River Fields, manager Kirk Gibson said. Each will be on a pitch limit of about 25 to 30, Gibson said. “I’m trying to develop our depth. It will give us the opportunity to see what they can do,” Gibson said. Josh Collmenter is to start the other split-squad game against San Francisco in Scottsdale. …

Shortstop Stephen Drew was given a day off Wednesday after working with his normal spring training group for the first time Tuesday. Drew has looked good fielding ground balls, Gibson said, and went into the hole and planted to test his right foot Tuesday. Drew, who broke his right ankle last July, has not run the bases or done any sliding yet, and he is unprepared to play in the early spring training games. “Not even close,” said Gibson, who plans to err on the side of caution.

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