In signing catcher Miguel Montero to a five-year contract extension, the Arizona Diamondbacks have acknowledged how important he is and how important it is that he not leave. His contract is the richest that the team has ever offered -- and that includes Randy Johnson and Justin Upton.
General manager Kevin Towers noted how important a good catcher is to a team during the team's press conference to announce the signing, and Montero certainly qualifies as a good one.
Among NL backstops since 2009, Montero ranks first with 92 doubles, second with 178 runs scored, 209 RBI, .452 slugging percentage, third with a .280 average, 378 hits, 611 total bases, 45 home runs and an .800 OPS, fourth with 391 games and a .348 on-base percentage and sixth with 131 walks. He has excelled in the clutch with 41 go-ahead RBI and 25 game-winning RBI, both second-best in the NL.
Montero set club records for catchers with 130 starts, 36 doubles, 18 home runs, 55 extra-base hits and 84 RBI and also threw out a club-best 47.7 percent of attempted basestealers (28-for-60) in 2011. Among NL catchers, he ranked first in hits (139), total bases (229), doubles (36), extra-base hits (55), RBI (84) and slugging percentage (.491) and second in average (.282) and home runs (18).
This season his offense is down a bit, but he is hitting .342 with runners in scoring position this season.
Defensively among active NL catchers since 2010, he is second to the Cardinals' Yadier Molina by throwing out 33.7 percent of attempted basestealers (54-of-160). This year he has been absolutely fantastic. He is throwing out whopping 59 percent of would-be base stealers so far in 2012. He has improved that percentage every year since 2008, when he only threw out just under 21 percent.
But it isn't just the production that got him this contract. It is also how he is with his pitchers and in the clubhouse.
"I've had the opportunity to watch him grow as a player and a person. The good thing about Miggy is, he sets a great example for his teammates," said Manager Kirk Gibson. "Most of all, the energy he brings to the ballpark each and every day. It's unbelievable."
He is always encouraging and trying to get guys up. That isn't to say he sometimes doesn't get into his teammates' faces. He once had a spat two seasons ago with Ian Kennedy, which quickly made them both better players. When Jose Valverde was closing games here in Arizona, Montero was one who felt Valverde should tone down his antics on the mound.
But beyond that, he is a great teammate and even is great with the press. He garnered the Arizona Chapter of the BBWAA Good Guy Award for his leadership skills on and off the field.
"He's really a leader, not only on the field but in the clubhouse. It was very apparent from our manager and general manager the desire to keep him here as a Diamondback," said President & CEO Derrick Hall.
But that isn't it. They want him to do even more -- and he does too.
Said Kirk Gibson, "He's been an All-Star and I know he wants to be a World Champion."
The team feels that to win a World Series, Montero will be a necessary piece.
He has a contract worthy of a big time player. Now it is his turn to keep up and even improve upon what he has accomplished in the major leagues.
Get more Diamondbacks coverage over at AZ Snakepit.