No arbitration for Renteria

I think it is safe to call the Edgar Renteria-Jair Jurrjens/Gorkys Hernandez deal “the trade that just keeps taking.” There was hope that the Tigers could salvage a couple draft picks out of the trade, but that possibility is now gone as the team has declined to offer Renteria arbitration.

All players are classified according to Elias as Type A or Type B or other. For pending free agents, teams can offer a player arbitration. If the player declines arbitration and signs elsewhere the team receives compensatory picks if they were Type A (a first or second rounder and a pick between the two rounds) or Type B (a pick between the first and second rounds). Edgar Renteria was a Type A meaning the Tigers would have been in line for 2 picks and giving them likely 3 picks in the top 50-60.

I’m quite disappointed that the team decided to walk away and not try and get the draft picks. The downside is that Renteria accepts arbitration. The likely scenario would then be that he would sign for about $9 million on a one year deal. Which despite last season wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Especially considering the Tigers are being linked to Julio Lugo’s and Alex Cora’s and other shortstops who are deficient in at least one area.

Yes, a $9 million exposure is probably more than the team wanted. But that risk could have been mitigated by cutting Renteria in the spring and paying him what amounts to a sixth of his salary and walking away. Plus, Renteria has been garnering interest from other teams and would probably choose a 2 year deal over the one year he could get in arbitration (although the new team may find him less attractive if they had to surrender a draft pick).

This seemed to be a low risk move with the worst case scenario being that Renteria was inked to a one year deal. The best case was the Tigers salvage something out of the trade and add some high ceiling talent to the organization. I understand that it may be bad etiquette and it may be viewed unfavorably by other players, to offer a contract with the intent of cutting while driving down the value on the open market. I honestly don’t know how much weight that should carry. But the Tigers need some wins this offseason. This doesn’t appear to be one.

40 thoughts on “No arbitration for Renteria”

  1. Considering the cost of the alternatives, a $9 million Renteria wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world.

  2. With the current economic climate, this strange move makes you wonder if the Tigers are so strapped for cash and/or deathly afraid of upping payroll, they didn’t want to even chance one year of Renteria at $9-10 million, when there are cheaper alternatives. (Not that the alternatives are all that exciting, or as good as Renteria) Declining arbitration makes absolutely no sense otherwise.

    This offseason has been one big ball of meh.

  3. I posted my reaction on MLBTR – this is a HORRID stringing wretched putrid awful move.

    I have a feeling that the Tigers are VERY afraid of going into the red this year. If that is the case, I think they would be better off to start the rebuilding now. I am VERY afraid that this move will be followed by acquiring Julio Lugo.

    I have really lost a lot of faith in DD in 2008 (the Florida deal was in 2007 – I think that was a very solid trade).

  4. Another swing and a miss from a front office that has been doing a lot of whiffing recently. There is NO downside to offering arbitration to Renteria. What a dumb, dumb decision.

  5. you said it, billfer. very disappointing. as you point out, renteria for one more year is not the end of the world, particularly given some of the alternatives currently being explored. it would be great to get a full explanation from the front office on why they decided not to offer arb.

    as an aside, i think that offering arbitration and then cutting renteria in spring training might invite a greivance from the player’s union. not sure that’s a battle DD wants to fight.

  6. My thoughts usually run to this when a decision like this is made >> ” DD could you explain your thinking to us on why Renteria was not offered arbitration, Beacuse from our stand point we really dont understand why not” It would really be interesting to hear is responce. Will it be political or is there somethig here we dont see (not likely).

    Maybe he wanted to play for the Lions now that Millan is gone and only DD knew that.


  7. Oh, I also highly doubt that Renteria only would’ve gotten $9-10 million in arbitration. When was the last time a player got his previous years’ salary (or even a pay cut, which $9 million would be) when going before an arbitrator?

    It likely would’ve been around $11-13 million which STILL is better than Lugo or Cora — unless they pay us to play baseball like it’s high school all over again.

  8. If you face arbitration, and you don’t put up average numbers in correlation to your career stats, or better, than you are most likely not going to see a pay raise.

    I think the Tigers made a big mistake here. Why not offer him the deal like mentioned above. It would of been well worth the payment.

    As a fan though, I do put a smile on my face, because it ensures he will not be back next season.

  9. @Big Al – I’m afraid you might be right. Unfortunately the Tigers activity at the winter meetings might be tied to the vote on the Big 3 loan.

  10. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Renteria put up similiar #’s to his usual career stats, the real difference was the change in BABIP, really low in 2008, super high in 2007. His walk rate was lower than usual, but the projections put at getting his career average stats next year, OPS of about .750.
    His range deminished and he rated about the same in 2008 as Guillen did in 2007 (looking at PMR), not good.
    On the waiving him in spring training thing, I don’t like the idea, but if he has an awful spring, doesn’t show any range and his bat looks dead, then it’s an option. The Padres did this a couple of years ago to Mark Ellis, I think the players and others looked on it as a real jerk move, but the Tigers have been much better with player relations than the Padres. If the move was made due to a bad spring then I think the Tigers would get a pass due to the treatment of the players in the past.

    Maybe the Tigers have picture of the future that makes this reasonable, but offering Renteria arbitration was low risk proposition.

  11. Think of it this way, they didn’t offer him arbitration so they could not sign two stud (another JJ and Gorkey 2.0) picks that the could trade away to get another mediocre player coming off a career year (Rentaria 2.0) =p

    That is the only twisted way I can think this makes sense

    Guy hit .270 with a .699 OPS 69 runs, 55rbi, and bad D, no way he was going to get a pay raise

    Mike R

    How was he going to make more than last year????????

    Check out that story, is he better than Howard or Soriano?, how was he going to break 10 mil? Me thinks that he would have gotten at least a mild pay cut maybe 8 mil if not lower… He had a horrid year

  12. If this was purely a salary issue than why haven’t we heard more rumblings about trading Maggs? Between him, Sheff, Guillen, Inge, Willis and Robertson there seem to be far more impacting ways of cutting salary than simply avoiding $9m and one year. Maybe it’ll still happen, but if this team is truly afraid of what will happen with the Big 3, Renteria seems to be merely a drop in the bucket.

    In addition, if the rumors about Wilson are true than it wasn’t really a salary issue. Unless The Tigers are looking for the Bucs to eat his salary he’ll only cost about $1m less than Rents would have made.

    What is really aggravating about this decision is the thought that Renteria will continue to drain our farm system. In addition to Jurrjens, Hernandez and 2 draft picks he may also cost us whatever it takes to get a new SS into Detroit. Unless Dombrowski is orchestrating some brilliant move that gets some really great players into town it’s hard to see this as anything other than a disappointing and amazingly stupid move.

  13. David, it’s possible that he would’ve gotten just $8, but that would require that the Tigers present the better case to the arbitrator — something I’m not so sure they would be able to do.

    Andrew: we probably would/will hear rumblings about Maggs when the Winter Meetings start. It feels like a dead offseason because (1) it has been dead, but (2) because last year we had the whole drama of A-Rod opting out during the world series and that entire storm that lasted for 6 weeks in the media. There’s nothing of that sort this year.

  14. Plus only 2 guys or so have signed last time I checked, I bet the off season will heat up

    BTW what is so hard to present?

    Don’t the arbitrators check out the stats?

    124runs/rbi, .699 OPS, plus bad d – .810 Zone Rating (this isn’t even looking at how the fans rated him)

    just using those 2 SIMPLE stats…there were 9 SS in the AL that had 480(or more) AB

    in the Runs+RBI he was 8th out of 9 and in OPS he was 6th out of 9

    in Zone Rating he was again 8th out of 9

    comparing him to the guys in the same league in the same year who played the same position who got a good amount of playing time he looks bad very bad,

    if the Tigers couldn’t spend some time, beautify what I just wrote (and possibly throw in some other dandy doodles) then this organization is swimming in the toilet…everybody and his brother who saw the Tigers last year knew Rentacya was bad it shouldn’t be too hard to point that out to someone(arbitrator) who gets paid $$ to evaluate the facts

  15. @David –

    It’s a little more involved than that, plus Renteria’s agent will have hired somebody to state his case as well. And in terms of relating him to other AL shortstops – did you see the other AL shortstops this year? Renteria doesn’t stack up to poorly and he still had a 22% line drive rate. Both sides have to make a case, it isn’t just the Tigers telling the arbitrator Renteria is bad.

    @Mike R
    It’s hard to say whether or not Renteria would get a raise. It really depends a lot on the numbers that the 2 sides submitted. If Renteria had put in say $11 million and the Tigers had put in 6, Renteria would probably win. If the Tigers put in 8 and Renteria puts in 13, the Tigers probably win. I picked 9 mil as a reasonable open market value.

  16. Has DD ever gone to arbitration with any player on the Tigers? I just don’t think he likes to do it, which may not be a great reason to decline Renteria, but it would partially explain it.
    Renteria is done, honestly I do not want him back. I would rather them take the $9M and spend it on Latin American free agents who are not draft eligible.

  17. I would have puked every time Renteria ran out to “field” his position for another year. Good riddance!

  18. I’m with you Kathy, painful to watch Renteria, almost as painful as it was to watch Guillen there when he was struggling at SS(he got dramatically better at 3B). Hard to fathom that a player as bad as Renteria is would be worth $9 million. Astonishing. I’d rather pay Neifi $2 million to start than to watch Edgar for even $5 million. At least Neifi can play SS. Edgar is no longer a SS, just another DH without a position.

  19. Two ways this makes sense to me:

    1) If a deal for a SS is currently being worked out. If, say, the club is about to finalize a deal to bring Jack Wilson (or whoever) and his $8 mill (or whatever) salary here, they wouldn’t want to take the chance on having another $8 mill SS on the roster.

    2) If the FO had a strong indication that Renteria was going to accept arbitration and submit a ‘reasonable’ bid ($8 mill or something), which would assure his coming back at a high (compared to performance) price, this is the better of two bad choices. I have a hunch this is the one. If they were sure he would accept, and they don’t want him, no reason to offer. His accepting arb would have meant no added draft picks AND more Edgar.

    Not a win by any stretch, but it may have been a sound decision.

  20. Do GMs ever discuss with each other their plans for offering or not offering arbitration to free agents? Let’s say Team X has a Type A that Team Y could use, and Team Y has a Type A that Team X could use. Neither team wants these Type As back, and neither team wants to give up draft picks for the Type As they could use.

    Barring any secret deals of this type, it just seems like the Tigers absolutely don’t want Renteria back and don’t want to play any games with the situation. Could be that a deal for whatever SS solution they’ve chosen is essentially done already.

  21. “Do GMs ever discuss with each other their plans for offering or not offering arbitration to free agents?”

    Loon, I think that falls under the ‘collusion’ category, and if the player’s union even got a whiff that something like that was going on, there would be lawsuits to high heaven. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I’d be surprised if it did in any consistent, meaningful sense.

    Mike R, you said it. Suddenly Neifi is a more reasonable option than Renteria? I don’t get that either….

  22. Mike R – Since as long as I can remember Neifi has been pretty slick with the glove, and contrasted with Renteria, Renteria makes Neifi look like Ozzie Smith.

    Edgar has a way of making the routine play look difficult, and the slightly difficult, impossible.

    I don’t get how extended viewing of Renteria’s defense doesn’t cause at least mild nausea.

    At least with Neifi I got to see some phenomenal things in the field from time to time, with Renteria, with the glove, the routine play is all you’ll EVER get, and that’s if you’re lucky. At the plate, Edgar GIDP 19 times, but it seemed like 90.

  23. Mark

    “Loon, I think that falls under the ‘collusion’ category”

    Yes, that’s what I suspected. But would it still be collusion if there was no agreement on anything, no handshake? If I’m another GM and I ask DD point blank whether he plans on offering Renteria arbitration, is he prohibited from answering me? I’m not suggesting there are many realistic scenarios where it makes sense to ask or answer such a question, but still.

  24. Loon,

    in my mind, collusion is simply the act of two parties secretly behaving in a coordinated fashion for their own benefit and to the detriment of a third party (or parties). no handshake, etc. required.

    as for your question, i would suppose you could ask DD if he’s planning on offering arb to a certain player, and there’s probably no law/rule from him answering you (truthfully or otherwise). I am no lawyer, but I would guess that at some point (perhaps the point where DD asks YOU if you’re planning to offer arb to one of your players as well) you reach a level where a reasonable person can deduce that DD either knows or should have known that such discussions are tantamount to collusion. thus, my guess is the players union takes that evidence to court and files suit with it.

    these are just my thoughts, i really don’t know. i’m pretty certain that any type of quid pro quo between teams regarding the contract of a player is playing with fire. remember, this is a union that is complaining about baseball owners freezing out barry bonds by “agreeing” not to offer him a contract. needless to say, they have a high sensitivity to this sort of thing.

  25. “thus, my guess is the players union takes that evidence to court and files suit with it.”

    Good thoughts all, Mark. I don’t know what evidence the players union would have, though. All they would have is appearance and suspicion of collusion. I would guess that baseball is full of all shades and degrees of collusion on all sides.

    If we pretend that the Padres need a SS like Renteria, and suppose that the Tigers end up with Hoffman and San Diego with Edgar, it might look like collusion, and it might be collusion, but I don’t know who the injured parties would be. Well, the Padres pitching staff, of course (it’s a joke).

  26. yeah, it’s the appearance or suspicion of collusion, as you suggest. how do you prove that? well, you start looking around for anything that supports your case. did someone see them talking? e-mails exchanged? what was the financial impact of other decisions? they have lawyers for this stuff.

    at the end of the day, the San Diego GM and DD (from your example) can agree not to offer arbitration to specific players, but once they do that, they have no way to stop either guy from signing with, say, the Giants or Royals. but the charge of collusion could still be made if the player’s union could argue that one of the players SHOULD haev been offered arbitration, and were not in an effort to keep said player’s salary lower. how they would prove this, i have no idea. but, it’s a labor monopoly, so they can pretty much do what they want.

  27. Greg

    IMO Rentaria as bad as he was, he wasn’t much worse than Neifi

    I’m not defending him too much, your comments just seemed over the top

    He sucked, but wasn’t Neifi or Sheffield suck level overall


  28. Usually with charges of collusion there need to be some damages. The Tigers did Renteria a favor by not offering him arbitration because he’s getting more money and years than if they had.

    If the two teams had wanted to swap players they probably could have signed them and then traded them.

    As for Renteria signing so quickly, that was probably facilitated by the fact that the Tigers didn’t offer arbitration. Now I’m on the side that says he should have been offered, but it’s a different environment once a team doesn’t have to give up a draft pick.

  29. David –

    Keep in mind we’re talking defense only, and by that standard, Renteria was significantly worse than Neifi in my opinion.

    When the total package, including offense is considered, I didn’t say Renteria was worse, just that I’d rather pay any schmuck the minimum, or an all field/no hit guy a million or 2(ie Neifi), than pay Renteria (gulp) $9 million.

    I’m glad he’s gone. Put Santiago in there….or anyone.

  30. True, but Neifi was anything but good as a fielder

    Again I’ll site tango

    Neifi 2007 44
    Rentaria 2008 35

    Both are below average, both were bad fielders, neither was great or even good or even above average or even average

    Neifi was bad Rentaria was worse

    Plus(including the 7mil difference) you forgot what we gave up for Rentaria

    Still IMO as a player I’d have him 10x out of 10 over Neifi just for the fact that he can hit once in awhile

    I’m no fan of either

  31. David – well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on his fielding skills. I do know that he’s been great whenever I’ve watched him, as I recall I couldn’t go two games w/o saying ‘wow, that was a nice play'(I didn’t say that once about Edgar the entire season, not once, that’s pretty amazing) maybe Neifi just ‘gets the memo’ whenever I watched and turned it up a notch. I do know it was reported that Leyland brought him in as a solution to Guillen’s butchery in the field and both Leyland & DD considered him to be a very good defensively(Leyland later said it was a mistake to bring him in, but that’s another story), not to mention a number of saberhead writers have described him as slick with the glove….including, but not limited to, Baseball Prospectus. I’m not familiar with Tango.

    But lets forget Neifi since you don’t like him, he’s not important. I’d rather roll with Santiago then. Or, if you don’t like Ramon, I’ll take any lackey in the minors. Let’s see what they can do.

    I don’t think anyone was going to sign Edgar if we offered arbitration and the Tigers knew it and thus they’d be stuck overpaying for him.

    I don’t hate the guy, but I am glad he’s not on the team. Just too many times going to Comerica, Edgar made me think I was watching the Bad News Bears rather than a professional baseball team. That’s not the experience I look for at the ballpark.

  32. Yea I guess we will, I didn’t think either was any good at SS

    That is Tangotiger, Billfer linked us there a few years ago
    Basically its scouting by the fans for the fans, you submit how good you think a player is defensively, and Tango averages all of them to find how good players are at different categories (ie throwing strength or speed etc.) check it out if you like, its a pretty useful and pretty accurate tool when evaluating a player IMO, and worlds above most commonly produced defensive metrics (ie Fielding%/ Errors/Assists/Putouts even Range Factor etc.)

    Yea, I’m for signing someone on the cheap who’s a defensive whiz and using the money elsewhere and let Santiago back up 3rd SS and 2nd

    I disagree with your next to last point. IMO he was bound to get signed if we gave him arbitration and he rejected the $$, he’s somewhat established, and some GMs (not saying that they are smart) would gamble on him and guess that he just had a “off year” and would “bounce back”

    I’m in agreement with you, ——–I didn’t want him back on the team. LOL at your last 2 sentences.

  33. Well, I’m a season ticket holder, so I make it to quite a few games and have seen a large enough sample size that I trust my own scouting over a fan poll(tango) when it comes to the Tigers.

    ‘It’s a mistake to think that your tools are smarter than you are’ – Baseball Prospectus

    But thanks for the link, it will be interesting nonetheless to see the fans take on things.

    Who would you like to see at SS? I heard some good things about Danny Worth back in 2007, but haven’t heard much lately. His offensive stats last year are nothing to get excited about, but, supposedly he plays good D, though I’ve never seen him play.

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