Sox, Diamondbacks continue to talk Montero

At this point, the Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks clearly feel there is a fit. The Diamondbacks have a catcher to deal and the Red Sox have prospects to trade, and it is only a matter of finding the right match.

Unless, of course, something better comes along.

So far, the Sox and Diamondbacks have yet to settle on compensation for Miguel Montero, a 25-year-old lefthanded-hitting catcher who would be a nice match with Josh Bard, a switch hitter who is better from the right side. According to one major league source, the Diamondbacks are seeking only a comparable prospect in return — a pitcher or a positional player — but the sides have yet to identify a comparable talent that would make the deal work for both sides.


In the interim, the Red Sox still have interest in Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek, the former through a potential trade with the Texas Rangers and the latter of whom remains a free agent.

Though he has batted just .239 in 414 career at-bats over parts of three major league seasons, Montero has demonstrated some power (15 home runs) while averaging roughly a walk every 10 at-bats. (Most evaluators deem that ratio to be a sign of sound plate discipline.) His best years came in the lower minors, though he has spent relatively little time at Double A and above because he has been shuttled to and from the majors in recent years.

In 2006, in time split between Double A and Triple A, Montero batted .286 with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs in 117 games.

The question is whether the Sox would prefer other options ahead of Montero, raising the question of whether they would try to use him as leverage to bring down the demands of the Rangers (for Saltalamacchia) or agent Scott Boras (who represents Varitek).

On another note, the Sox will hold a news conference this morning to formally announce the signing of John Smoltz to a one-year deal. Smoltz attended last night’s Celtics game at TD Banknorth Garden and has a now-publicized friendship with coach Doc Rivers, who encouraged Smoltz to come to Boston.

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