The Toronto Blue Jays added some organizational catching depth Friday, signing veteran backstop Humberto Quintero to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to big league Spring Training.
Quintero, a 12-year MLB veteran, last appeared in the majors with the 2014 Seattle Mariners. The 36-year-old spent the 2015 season with the triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, where he hit seven home runs with a .638 OPS in 81 games.
Considering that triple-A catchers Sean Ochinko and George Kottaras became minor league free agents following the season, the Blue Jays needed to replenish their organizational depth.
Quintero has typically been a backup at the MLB level, never appearing in more than 88 games in a season. The right-handed hitter has 20 career home runs with a pedestrian .234/.267/.327 slash line.
On defence Quintero has prevented stolen base attempts at an above-average clip of 33 per cent, but his pitch framing numbers rate as below average in recent seasons, according to Baseball Prospectus.
The Blue Jays lost backup catcher Dioner Navarro to free agency following the season and though there’s at least some interest in retaining him, he could obtain more playing time elsewhere instead of returning as Russell Martin’s backup. That leaves Josh Thole and A.J. Jimenez on Toronto’s 40-man roster plus Quintero, a non-roster invitee.
At this early stage of the off-season, the Blue Jays’ catching depth beyond Martin now consists of two players who didn’t reach the MLB level in 2015 plus Thole, who posted a .495 OPS. It’s still an area they can build on in the months leading up to Spring Training.