© 2012 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

02/29/12 5:13 PM EST

Montero, D-backs shelve contract talks

Sides will resume negotiations after season's end

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs and catcher Miguel Montero agreed Wednesday to suspend any further talks on a long-term contract until after the 2012 season.

Montero, who settled his salary-arbitration case just moments before its start last month, is eligible for free agency following this season.

"All I will say is we worked long and hard at it," general manager Kevin Towers said. "There was good dialogue, good conversation, and we just weren't able to find any common ground. That's just part of this business."

The halting of talks does not mean that Montero's career in Arizona will necessarily end with the final out of 2012.

"There's certainly still a desire to have Miguel Montero here beyond the 2012 season," Towers said.

Montero, who owns a home in the Phoenix area, has been with the defending National League West champions his entire career.

"Ultimately I have a decision to make," he said, referring to where to play next year. "And like I said to [the D-backs], they're going to be my priority in the offseason."

Montero said that nothing negative came out of the negotiations.

"I know they've been trying hard," he said. "There's no hard feelings right now. It was a nice process. I've never been through it before. They tried pretty hard. Unfortunately it didn't get to where we wanted it to, but now I just want to prepare for the season."

The decision to end the negotiations came as a result of both sides saying they did not want the negotiations to become a distraction.

"At this point, I just want to be focused on the game and my pitchers, and bottom line, I just want to win," Montero said.

Towers said that his experience with past in-season negotiations was that it was counterproductive for the player and the team.

"The quicker we can put it behind us, the less questions he has to answer [and] I have to answer, and we can hopefully get back to defending our NL West championship," Towers said.

While both sides denied it, it seems the recent reports that catcher Yadier Molina had agreed to a five-year, $75 million extension with the Cardinals may have pushed Montero's cost outside of the D-backs' price range.

Last season, Montero hit .282 with 18 homers and 86 RBIs in 140 games while making $3.2 million. This year, he will earn $5.9 million.

While it's not known how much the D-backs offered Montero, it certainly was a chance for Montero to set himself up financially for life, and he said he understands the risk that he could get injured or struggle in 2012.

"I do have a lot of confidence and I have to go out there and prove it again, and I know that," he said. "I'm going to take my chances, go out there. I've got plenty of confidence in me and I just want to go out there and play."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.