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Latest News Miguel Montero is the Diamondbacks’ cornerstone player

Like or not, the Arizona Diamondbacks will report for spring training in less than a month without the likes of Chris Young, Trevor Bauer or Justin Upton.

Whether the litany of moves general manager Kevin Towers orchestrated in the offseason pay off for the club moving forward remains to be seen, but with that said, the organization has its eyes on 2013 and beyond.

As part of their winter series “Core Values”, and Dayn Perry assessed who the D-backs cornerstone will be now that their prized 25-year-old outfielder is headed to Atlanta.

The answer is catcher Miguel Montero.

Arizona’s 29-year-old backstop has made one All-Star appearance in six-plus seasons with the team. He’s a career .275 hitter with 73 home runs and 333 RBI and handles a pitching staff like few others in the National League.

And if ever there were a vocal leader in the D-backs clubhouse, it’s Montero.

In May of last year, the Diamondbacks signed Montero to a five-year, $60-million contract extension. That means that the Arizona catcher is locked up through the 2017 season. Wise investment? Quite possibly. Committing to a catcher until he’s well into his 30s (Montero is presently 29) is risky, but Montero has distinguished himself. Over the past two seasons, he’s been one of the most productive catchers around, as he’s shown some pop, an ability to hit for average and a disciplined approach at the plate. Given that base of skills, Montero should be worth the investment provided he remains healthy and durable. Of course, health and durability are never to be assumed with catchers.

While Montero’s play might warrant the franchise cornerstone label, Perry offers one caveat: the Venezuelan should not be viewed as the face of the D-backs.

That distinction apparently belongs to a pitching rotation built on youth and experience.

While the Arizona offense won’t be awful and will be made to appear as a plus by hitter-friendly Chase Field, this is a team now built around rotation depth.

As of now, the D-Backs’ starting five runs Ian Kennedy, Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley and Tyler Skaggs. That, to say the least, is an impressive assemblage. There are questions, though. Can Kennedy rediscover his 2011 level of performance? Can McCarthy stay healthy? Is Cahill ready to take the next step? Can Miley capitalize on an impressive rookie campaign? Will Skaggs live up to the scouting reports?

Although questions abound for the D-backs and likely won’t be answered until the heart of summer, as Perry’s evaluation suggests, it’s not a bad idea to start focusing on what lies ahead.

After all, neither the team nor its fans can change what’s already been done.

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