Infielder Omar Quintanilla, who performed well with the Mets during the first half of last season, is returning to the organization on a minor league deal with a spring-training invite, a baseball source told ESPNNewYork.com.
The Mets had traded Quintanilla to the Baltimore Orioles for cash last July 20. They regretted losing him, but needed to clear a roster spot for the return of Jason Bay from the disabled list. Mets officials traded Quintanilla at that point figuring they would lose him off waivers if they tried to pass him through waivers to send him to Triple-A.
Quintanilla, 31, hit a combined .243 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 169 at-bats for the Mets and Orioles in 2012.
Because he is on a minor league deal, Quintanilla may be an underdog against Brandon Hicks for a backup middle infield role out of spring training. Hicks was acquired from the Oakland Athletics on Nov. 26 for cash and is on the 40-man roster.
The Mets remain the lone team yet to sign a free agent to a major league deal this offseason.