HOUSTON -- Humberto Quintero, who's one the longest current tenured members of the Astros, will return for another season after the club announced Tuesday it had agreed to a one-year deal worth $1 million, plus incentives, with the gritty backup catcher.
Quintero, 31, hit .234 with four homers and a career-high 20 RBIs in a career-best 265 at-bats last season, which marked his first full year in the Major Leagues. Quintero has been with the Astros since they acquired him in a trade prior to the 2005 season and spent his first five seasons in Houston splitting time between the Majors and Minor Leagues.
By signing Quintero, the Astros are left with seven arbitration-eligible players in advance of Thursday's deadline to tender contracts to those players.
"I'm excited to get it done before Thursday," said Quintero, who made $750,000 last season. "I'm pretty happy with the team and happy to stay here. I've been here for a long time and I'm excited to stay."
Astros general manager Ed Wade, who spent Monday in Oklahoma City, Okla., with owner Drayton McLane and president of baseball operations Tal Smith to introduce Triple-A manager Tony DeFrancesco, said it was somewhat coincidental the club got the deal done with Quintero so close to the tender deadline.
"We thought this was fairly cut-and-dried and Q is his best own comparable [player], so [assistant general manager] David Gottfried started working on it a few days ago and we got it done," Wade said. "Q fits in very well with what we're trying to do. On one hand, he's the prototypical backup catcher, but he brings more to the table than that.
"He works very well with the coaching staff on preparing the game plan and executing it. From a physical standpoint, he's a real solid receiver and throws very well. We think he's a guy that can go out there on a part-time basis or a semi-platoon basis and be effective."
Quintero has been working out daily at Minute Maid Park this offseason from 7:45 a.m. CT until 12:30 p.m. with strength and conditioning coach Dr. Gene Coleman in an effort to stay in shape.
"He deserves a lot of credit," Wade said. "At times, people questioned his conditioning and whether his body was going to be durable, but the fact is he's working very hard at his craft to take advantage of every opportunity. The first year I was here, I took him off the roster twice during the  season and cleared him through waivers and nobody claimed him. He's established himself as a solid, credible catcher, and we're fortunate to have him."
Quintero will come to Spring Training listed as the backup to Jason Castro, a former first-round Draft pick who got his feet wet as a rookie last season.
"We're hoping Jason continues to progress and becomes a very good catcher for the next 10 years, but it's nice to have someone like Q alongside him," Wade said. "What [Quintero's] role is, that's up to interpretation, but the reality is he fits in very well with what we're trying to do."
The Astros' seven remaining arbitration-eligible players are pitchers Wandy Rodriguez, Nelson Figueroa and Matt Lindstrom, infielders Clint Barmes and Jeff Keppinger and outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence.
Contrary to a published report, the Astros aren't in conversations with Rodriguez about a multiyear contract. Wade said the club kicked around the idea with Rodriguez's representatives earlier in the year, but they are not involved in active multiyear negotiations at this time. He will be a free agent after the 2011 season.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.