Early in the offseason the Red Sox traded second base prospect Esteban Quiroz to the Padres for relief pitcher Colten Brewer, likely to help refill the bullpen with Craig Kimbrel’s contract expiring at last season’s end. The bullpen hasn’t been good this year, but Brewer is still around, and as far as these things go it still seems like a pretty straightforward swap for Boston, especially because Quiroz, now 27 years old, hasn’t yet played a game at the Major League level. All of that said, I would like the Red Sox to trade (back) for Quiroz, because if they acquired him he’d probably step foot into Fenway Park as the best second baseman on the roster.
First question first: Who is this guy? Right now, he’s the starter for the El Paso Chihuahuas — San Diego’s insanely-on-the-nose-here AAA team. Prior to that, he was the starting second baseman for the Mexican national team in the World Baseball Classic, and prior to that, he was a star in the Mexican League for seven seasons. He is a small guy in the Jose Altuve/Dustin Pedroia/Nick Madrigal (coming soon!) mold, which is to say he’s a small guy who hits and hits and hits and hits and plays second base. Right now he’s hitting a stupid .257/.375/.526 — yes, .526 — in AAA, a year after hitting .299/.413/.598 — .598! — over a short season in AA. Usually when a player hits like this and stays in the minors it’s because he’s still young or is a Quad-A player at heart, but neither is likely true in Quiroz’s case.
Second question: What gives? The answer: He’s catastrophically blocked in San Diego behind both 2018 Red Sox legend Ian Kinsler and top-25 prospect Luis Urias, and his prime years are being wasted as organizational depth in one of the deepest organizations in baseball. Unless the Padres see him as the long-term backup to Urias -- which is possible but unlikely and unnecessary given the state of their farm system -- he ought to be as available as most 27-year-old AAA players are at the trade deadline. Also he’s small, but so are a lot of people who don’t hit nearly as well as he does, and we see through such prejudices on principle (unless we don’t).
Third question: What would the Sox trade? Outside of a handful of guys at the top of the system, I’d bet most of the farm would be available, but that supposes the Padres want anything the Red Sox have. If they want Major League level talent, the best trade chits the Sox have -- in theory -- are Rick Porcello and Jackie Bradley Jr., but you’d also need those guys to turn around to salvage the season, so they seem like unlikely fits here. The truth is that I don’t know the perfect deal or if there is one, only that the player’s stature, so to speak, shouldn’t necessitate a megadeal.
All of that said, it sounds like he’s capable of playing at the big-league level for whoever will have him, which is what the Sox imagined when they signed him in the first place. He was briefly injured and it may have derailed the Sox’s window for him, but now he fits a different window. Nothing about the longstanding trade relationship between the Padres and Red Sox says “no backsies.” Maybe they didn’t love Quiroz when they let him go, but I’m sure we’d love him if they got him back. Anyhow this was supposed to be published two weeks ago but I went to San Diego, of all places, on vacation before I finished, and at least now I can tell you this: They don’t seem to be missing him. Shoulda brought him back in my carry-on.