The Cincinnati Reds announced that they have signed infielder Juniel Querecuto to a minor league deal and extended an invitation to big league spring training.
If you are asking yourself who Juniel Querecuto is, you probably aren’t alone. The now 29-year-old last played in the big leagues in 2016 with the Tampa Bay Rays. It was his only time spent in Major League Baseball and he went 1-11 with a triple and six strikeouts in four games played that year. He was granted free agency following that season and signed with the San Francisco Giants before moving on to join the Arizona Diamondbacks organization from 2018-2021.
During the 2021 season he played for Triple-A Reno. Over his 96 games played he hit .301/.354/.489 with 15 doubles, 7 triples, 13 home runs, 9 steals, 31 walks, and 62 strikeouts in 396 plate appearances. This past year was the first season in which he reached double digits in home runs. Prior to the last two seasons (2019 and 2021) he had never hit more than 3 home runs in a given season. Both of those seasons came in Reno, which plays very hitter friendly in a league that plays quite hitter friendly.
At the plate there doesn’t seem to be a lot to get excited about as nothing in particular stands out on his resume – there’s not any power, he isn’t a high contact rate guy (though he doesn’t strike out a ton, either), he hasn’t been a high walk rate guy, he isn’t racking up high stolen base totals…. but defensively there could be some value to be had. In the last two years with Reno he’s played every position on the field except catcher, and he’s done so more than just as an emergency fill in.
While we don’t know exactly what baseball is going to look like in 2022, until we know otherwise, the National League still doesn’t have the designated hitter. And because of that the defensive flexibility of a player like Juniel Querecuto can be of value off of the bench for a team. That is maybe even more true now with the amount of pitching changes that happen in games today compared to 20 years ago that result in more double switches than ever before. While most of his time has come at shortstop, second base, and third base, he’s got experience playing just about everywhere on the field.