Mets Sign Omar Quintanilla; Done Adding To The Outfield?

By Matt Musico

The Mets signed Omar Quintanilla yesterday to a minor league deal with an invite to Big League camp. Yes, they still haven’t signed an external free agent to a Major League contract yet. Quintanilla split his 2012 season with the Mets and Orioles; he came up and filled in admirably when Ruben Tejada, Ronny Cedeno, and Justin Turner were all injured and Terry Collins needed a shortstop. He was designated for assignment to make room for Jason Bay returning from the DL, then was dealt to Baltimore for cash.

Adam Rubin said New York didn’t want to trade away the middle infielder, who ended up hitting a combined .243/.312/.361, but they felt it was prudent to get something in return for him since it was likely he’d get scooped up off waivers. The return of Q means he’ll likely compete with newly acquired Brandon Hicksfor a reserve role on the roster. I think Hicks has the upper hand because not only did Sandy give some cash in exchange for him earlier this off-season, but he’s right-handed and four years younger than Quintanilla. However, he would be a good insurance policy to have in Triple-A, as he proved last year when the injury bug hit Flushing hard.

June 3, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; New York Mets shortstop Omar Quintanilla (6) dives but misses the ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Adron Chambers (56) during the eighth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

In other news, the Wilpon’s refinanced $450 million they had borrowed against SNY, which reduces a huge payment they were due to make soon. Doing so, which took months to complete, will help their day-to-day operations, meaning they will be able to hold onto their ownership of the team for a while longer. Hooray. Also, Randy St. Claire, who most recently spent time as the Miami Marlins pitching coach, will join Wally Backman in Triple-A Las Vegas in the same role.

What was really unsettling to hear last night is that the Mets may very well be done adding outfielders to the roster for 2013. Yup, you read that right. So, there will likely be a couple of platoons out there. Lucas Duda is expected to be penciled in as the everyday left fielder, while Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter will man center and right, respectively, as the left-handed parts of those platoons. Adam Rubin reports that Collin Cowgill, Brian Bixler and Andrew Brown will get heavy consideration to to be the right-handed parts to those platoons, as will Justin Turner, despite not having extensive outfield experience. That would love the newly-signed Quintanilla and Hicks as the primary backups in the infield.

Yes, the most attractive free agent target left out there is Scott Hairston, but that’s only because Sandy Alderson didn’t move quick enough to entice more proven everyday players to come to Flushing. The last thing I wanted for the 2013 outfield was to be another platoon factory, which is what it ended up being in 2012. Obviously, they have the most confidence in Duda, who recently said to ESPN New York that his wrist is doing well, but who knows what will happen with Kirk and Baxter. Out of those two, I think it’s more important to find an everyday outfielder for right, as I see Baxter more useful as a fourth outfielder. So, I’m praying either Cowgill or Brown has a good enough Spring where Terry Collins is compelled to give them a starting job out of camp, as consistency in a lineup can be overlooked at times. Look at how it helped the Mets in the first half, and how they crumbled in the second half.

Only time will tell if Sandy Alderson is truly done. Remember when he said the 2013 roster would look similar to what it was at the end of 2012? A week later, he traded away R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole, and Mike Nickeas. So, I’ll believe he’s really done when pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie.