The San Francisco Giants made a positive, albeit somewhat unexpected move earlier this week and re-signed catcher Guillermo Quiroz to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
After beating the odds just to make the Giants’ roster out of spring training in 2013, Quiroz began the year as the big league club’s third catcher. As Hector Sanchez struggled with a nagging shoulder injury, Quiroz worked his way into the no. 2 spot and stayed there for most of the season.
His most notable moment was a May 5 walk-off home run to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, which was one of the high points in an otherwise underwhelming year for the Giants. Overall, Quiroz contributed quality defense and clubhouse leadership, but it wasn’t quite enough to supplant his .186 batting average, so he was designated for assignment on August 8 as Sanchez returned to full health.
After clearing waivers, Quiroz finished the year with Triple-A Fresno, and the writing on the wall was seemingly there for Quiroz when he was passed over for longtime minor-leaguer Johnny Monell when the Giants sought a third catcher for September. However, Quiroz has done everything in his power to boost his reputation while playing for Tigres de Aragua in Venezuela this offseason. Through 49 at-bats, the soon-to-be 32-year-old has a .388 batting average.
After performing adequately in his first year of Double-A and hitting .360 with two homers in the Arizona Fall League, 23-year-old catching prospect Andrew Susac figures to move up to Triple-A Fresno in 2014. That makes Quiroz’s future beyond spring training rather unclear. His signing, however, could be bad news for Monell, who already was at high risk for removal from the 40-man roster as the Giants seek to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.
With Susac and Quiroz in the fold, the Giants likely would not be too affected depth-wise if they were to lose Monell. With that said, the Giants usually keep three catchers at the Triple-A level, so it’s no sure thing that either Quiroz or Monell will have to be let go from the system.
Aside from the fact that Quiroz may add a year or two to the average age of next year’s Triple-A team, it’s difficult to take issue with the Giants bringing him back. He’s by all accounts a good clubhouse guy, an extremely hard worker, a great communicator with his pitching staff and a talented defensive catcher. As long as the Giants aren’t relying on him to win games with his bat, Quiroz is a good player to have in the system.