ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

ESPN insider: Catcher Miguel Montero will be D-backs’ ‘linchpin’ in 2014

Jan 20, 2014, 8:23 PM | Updated: 8:24 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers might have pulled the trigger on a three-team trade that netted the team power-hitting outfielder Mark Trumbo back in Dec. 2013, but according to one baseball analyst, the team will need another big bat to step up if it plans on finding its way into postseason play.

In an ESPN insider piece this weekend, Buster Olney released his ’30 Linchpin Players of 2014′ — a list of the one player for “each of the 30 teams whose performance will be most pivotal.”

When it came to the D-backs, Olney believes the onus will be on catcher Miguel Montero to have a big year.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Miguel Montero. They greatly value him, and they’re paying him to be a key part of their lineup. When he didn’t hit last season, it really, really hurt; he must be an effective complement to Paul Goldschmidt.

Montero, who signed a new five-year, $60-million deal back in May 2012, struggled mightily last season, batting just .230 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI — his lowest offensive outputs since 2010.

To make matters worse, Montero directed a starting pitching staff that finished No. 19 in ERA (4.13), No. 19 in WHIP (1.32), No. 22 in opponents’ BAA (.264) No. 25 in wins (46).

In addition to his struggles on the field, the seven-year veteran missed a majority of August due to a lower back strain.

Montero also underwent surgery to clean up an infection in his left index finger back in October but is expected to be at full strength in 2014. He along with Trumbo will be asked to serve as some additional lineup protection for Paul Goldschmidt (.302 batting average, 36 home runs and 125 RBI), who finished second in the MVP voting despite the catcher’s woeful campaign in 2013.

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ESPN insider: Catcher Miguel Montero will be D-backs’ ‘linchpin’ in 2014