Arbitration season is upon us, and the first player on the docket, Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, appears headed to a hearing, according to major-league sources.
Montero, 28, asked for $6.8 million, a figure that would more than double his 2011 salary of $3.2 million. The Diamondbacks offered $5.4 million.
A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning, and a settlement or long-term agreement is unlikely, sources say. The Diamondbacks view the Texas Rangers’ Mike Napoli as Montero’s biggest comparable. Montero’s agents at Octagon disagree, pointing out that Napoli is only a part-time catcher while Montero last season tied the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina for the most starts at the position, 131.
Napoli signed for $5.8 million in arbitration last season as a player with four-plus years of service, one fewer than Montero has now. At the time, Napoli was coming off three straight 20-homer campaigns. He would go on to hit 30 for Texas. Montero established his own career-high for homers, 18, while batting .282/.351/.469.
So, should Montero make $1 million more than Napoli did in 2011, even though he has an extra year of service time? Even if the two sides settled at the midpoint, $6.1 million, Montero would be above where Napoli was a year ago – and in 2010, Montero missed more than two months with a knee injury.
Montero also would be above where the Braves’ Brian McCann and Cardinals’ Yadier Molina were as five-plus players, but both of those catchers’ salaries were determined by long-term extensions, not arbitration.
A long-term deal for Montero would enable the sides to settle on his salaries for 2012 and beyond. If no such agreement is reached, Montero will be eligible for free agency next off-season.