NEW YORK -- Seeking middle-infield depth behind new starting shortstop Ruben Tejada, the Mets on Tuesday announced that they have signed Omar Quintanilla to a Minor League contract and invited him to Spring Training.
Once a top shortstop prospect in the A's organization, Quintanilla, 30, has made Major League cameos for the Rockies and Rangers in six of the past seven seasons. Appearing in 11 games for Texas last summer, Quintanilla was 1-for-22 with nine strikeouts. His best big league showing came in 2008, when he hit .238 with two homers and 17 doubles in 81 games for Colorado.
While playing for the Rockies' Triple-A Colorado Springs affiliate two years later, Quintanilla tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance and served a 50-game suspension. He rebounded to hit .298 with a .369 on-base percentage for Texas' Triple-A Round Rock affiliate in 2011.
Quintanilla figures to complement the right-handed Justin Turner as a lefty-swinging infielder off the bench, backing up Tejada and probable starting second baseman Daniel Murphy. Prior to signing Quintanilla, the Mets had been linked to veteran free-agent infielders Jack Wilson, Ryan Theriot and Ronny Cedeno.
Tejada, 22, will replace the departed Jose Reyes as New York's starting shortstop this season. Murphy, 26, figures to take over full time at second base following a season-ending knee injury last August.