The Rays have acquired infield prospect Esteban Quiroz from the Padres, Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen reports (Twitter link). Quiroz represents the player to be named later in the December trade that saw Tommy Pham and two-way prospect Jake Cronenworth go to San Diego, while the Rays received Hunter Renfroe and infield prospect Xavier Edwards.
The 28-year-old Quiroz is a longtime veteran of the Mexican League, only joining a big league organization after signing a minors deal with the Red Sox in the 2017-18 offseason. A year later, Quiroz was swapped to the Padres in exchange for Colten Brewer, and is now on the move again to Tampa. All the while, Quiroz has done nothing but hit since joining the affiliated ranks, with a .274/.390/.541 slash line and 26 home runs over 499 combined plate appearances at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in the Boston and San Diego farm systems.
Quiroz obviously has a significant age and experience advantage over virtually all of his minor league counterparts, plus his Triple-A performance in 2019 (a .923 OPS in 366 PA) has the twin caveats of coming in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, and during the unprecedented offensive explosion that was the 2019 Triple-A season. That being said, Quiroz also had a strong track record at the plate before reaching the minors, hitting .293/.402/.451 over 1573 career plate appearances in the Mexican League. Quiroz only had 38 homers in those 1573 PA, so while it’s probably fair to say that his power game was aided by the Triple-A ball, his on-base skills and overall approach at the plate seems to be translating well.
As a left-handed hitter who seems just about big league-ready, Quiroz is another intriguing addition to the Rays’ depth chart. Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle, two other lefty bats, are seemingly ahead of Quiroz in terms of second base duty, though all three players have enough multi-positional flexibility that the Rays (who mix and match their lineups as much as any club in baseball) can conceivably find at-bats for any of them. Quiroz has mostly played second base over the last two seasons, though he has played shortstop and third base during his time in the Mexican League.
Looking at the five-player deal as a whole, the Rays dealt away the more accomplished MLB performer in Pham, though Pham is also older, more expensive, and perhaps a bit less defensively adept than Renfroe. While Cronenworth is a solid prospect in his own right, Edwards and Quiroz represents a nice return for Tampa Bay, as the Rays get a near-term option in Quiroz and more of a longer-term player in Edwards.