A storm of activity swept through Giants Land yesterday when WFAN — my #1 resource for reliable, sports information — leaked news that SS Edgar Renteria, formerly of the Detroit Tigers, had signed with the Giants for 2-years, $18M. Reactions ranged from solid, to bewilderment, to confused, back to bewilderment again, and then to acceptance. It’s easier for me to think of the offseason as a series of improbable events that I have no control over. That way I get less freaked out when things happen. You can call it indifference but it makes things more digestible for me than freaking out every five minutes.
In regards to Renteria, the rumor turned out to be false. The Giants will still be seeking middle infield help and the team is known to prefer Furcal, but Renteria would be a nice option B if he did indeed sign for something like 2-years, $18M. One thing that didn’t jive with the Renteria rumor right off the bat was why would the Giants sign him before the December 1st arbitration deadline? The Tigers already paid Renteria $3M to buy out his $12M option. As Baggs astutely notes, you don’t pay a guy $3M to go away and then turn around and offer him arbitration.
Marcel projects Renteria pretty favorably for 2009 with a line of: .285/.345/.417, that’s a wOBA of .336 making him a slightly better than league average hitter. Finding a SS that can hit around league average is a valuable thing to have. As Dave Cameron of FanGraphs noted yesterday, a key for Rentria will be his defense. Last season plus/minus had Renteria as a -9 SS, meaning that he made 9 plays less than your average SS. That works out to about -7 runs below average. If we count Renteria as a -10 run player with the glove, which is possible because he’s not getting any younger, he’s worth a little less then +2 wins over replacement. Teams tend to pay about $5M per replacement win, so Renteria should be worth around $10M per season. Which is exactly the rate he would have been earning per season under the rumored deal. The Cameron piece makes also makes a nice argument that Renteria’s underlying batted ball data really didn’t change from his career norms in ’08, indicating that he might have been a little unlucky. In fact, Renteria’s BABIP in ’08 was about 48 points lower than his xBABIP.
I’ll be interested to see what happens after December 1st now. It’s possible, as Baggs noted in his link above, that the Tigers may consider offering Renteria arbitration now because of the mult-year deal rumor. If the Giants sign Renteria before December 1st, or Detroit offers him arbitration and he declines, the Giants would lose their 2nd round draft pick.