Tuesday, the Astros and Royals swung a trade. Maybe you think the most interesting player involved is Jason Bourgeois. Maybe you think the most interesting player involved is Kevin Chapman. Maybe you think the most interesting player involved is the player to be named later. But here I'm going to give a little attention to Humberto Quintero.
You're forgiven if you hadn't heard of Quintero before, or if you knew of him but didn't know he was in the majors. Quintero's hardly a household name, having batted 1,137 times over the past nine years. He's 32, and he has a career 58 OPS+. That's a statistic where 100 is league-average, and better than 100 is better than league-average.
So Quintero doesn't hit. That just isn't his thing. The Royals sought him out for some reason, though, as a fill-in for the injured Salvador Perez. What might that reason be?
Defense. Obviously, it's defense. Last summer, Mike Fast studied the effect of pitch-framing, and Quintero scored well. His receiving was found to save about five runs per full season over the average backstop. Beyond that, last fall, Bojan Koprivica studied the effect of pitch-blocking. Quintero scored very well. In fact, he finished first, as the best pitch-blocker in baseball. That's another five or six runs per full season over the average backstop.
Throw in some good ... throwing ... and Quintero seems to be one of baseball's best defensive catchers, as far as we can measure them. That explains why he's hung around for so long, and that probably explains why the Royals got him. The Royals might not care about these numbers specifically - we know they have a very different opinion of Yuniesky Betancourt's defense than everyone else - but I'm guessing they have a sense that Quintero's really good back there, and so they'll hope he can help the pitchers until Perez recovers from his injury.