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01/12/09 4:03 PM EST

Red Sox interested in Montero

Young D-backs catcher could fill Boston's need at backstop

BOSTON -- Independent of whether or not the Red Sox can re-sign free agent Jason Varitek, general manager Theo Epstein continues to be aggressive in trying to find his catcher of the future.

According to the Boston Herald, the Red Sox are still having active dialogue with the Diamondbacks regarding Miguel Montero, who is 25 years old.

The Red Sox have also been intrigued by the two young catchers on the Rangers, Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltamacchia. However, the insistence of Texas to get Clay Buchholz in the package was believed to be a major stumbling point, which is why Epstein views Montero as a more realistic target.

The Herald report stated that the Red Sox could get Montero without including Buchholz, the highly gifted starting pitcher who threw a no-hitter against the Orioles in 2007 before struggling mightily and spending much of '08 in the Minor Leagues.

It could be that Boston would instead send Arizona another pitching prospect such as Daniel Bard or Michael Bowden, though the Red Sox did -- according to reports -- reject a proposal from the Diamondbacks involving the latter right-hander at December's Winter Meetings.

Montero hit .255 with five homers and 18 RBIs in 70 games for the Diamondbacks in 2008.

A report in the Arizona Republic noted the same interest later on Monday, but implied that nothing is imminent. According to the Republic, the two sides have resumed discussions, but the D-backs still haven't heard an offer they like.

Even if the Red Sox were able to acquire Montero or another young catcher, that wouldn't necessarily rule out a return engagement for Varitek.

A market has been slow to develop for the switch-hitting catcher, who is coming off the worst offensive season (.220, 13 homers, 43 RBIs) of his career and turns 37 in April.

Hot Stove
Last week, Epstein reiterated that the club hasn't given up hope of bringing back Varitek.

"There's still some unfinished business," Epstein said. "Obviously, Jason is still out there. As I said at the beginning of the offseason, he's been a really important guy here to this organization and by no means have we shut the door on him. There's still unfinished business there, and also, in the pursuit of a younger catcher."

Josh Bard, signed on Jan. 2, will be one of Boston's catchers in 2009.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.