Tigers won't pick up Renteria's option
Detroit hasn't completely closed the door on veteran returning
CHICAGO -- The Tigers will not pick up shortstop Edgar Renteria's contract option for next year, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski announced on Monday. However, Dombrowski did not rule out the possibility of re-signing him as a free agent this offseason.
The decision, which had been expected, is the latest step in the moves coming out of the Tigers' disappointing season. This one comes nearly a year after Detroit acquired Renteria from Atlanta in a trade for talented young right-hander Jair Jurrjens and outfield prospect Gorkys Hernandez -- completed the day after the World Series ended.
Renteria was out of the lineup for Monday's makeup game against the White Sox with a strained left pectoral muscle, so he might have played his final game in a Tigers uniform.
"He did not have a good year defensively at shortstop," Dombrowski said. "He has been better offensively lately, but defensively, he did not have a good year at shortstop. We have advised him that we are not going to pick up his option for next year -- not closed the door on it, but we're also going to explore options. "
The $12 million option was the last piece of the free-agent contract that Renteria signed with the Red Sox after the 2004 season. He has been traded twice since then, with the Tigers taking the final guaranteed year of the deal as well as a $3 million buyout.
The decision to decline the option had been expected after a year in which the 33-year-old Renteria seemingly showed signs of his age after two solid seasons in Atlanta. He'll finish the year hitting .270 in 138 games, with 22 doubles, 10 home runs and 55 RBIs. A good portion of that offensive production came in the season's second half. Renteria hit .294 with an .810 OPS since the All-Star break, compared to .254 and .627 in the season's first half. He had 17 doubles in 194 at-bats since the break, 12 more than he had going in.
Defensively, Renteria's range factor -- his average of putouts and assists per nine innings played -- actually rose from last year to this, suggesting he made more plays than in year's past. His 91 double plays marked his highest total since 2005. His error total, however, rose from 11 in 2007 to 16 this year.
"We knew Renteria's range at shortstop wasn't the same," Dombrowski said, referring to when they made the trade.
Dombrowski also pointed out that the Tigers made the trade believing Brandon Inge would be their third baseman, providing a wide range at the hot corner. Still, Dombrowski admitted, the defensive difference was startling.
"As I've told people, I wish I had the capabilities to sit down and watch 162 games of Edgar Renteria playing shortstop in 2007 versus [this year]," Dombrowski said.
Renteria said on Sunday that he would like to return to the Tigers, whether or not they would pick up his option.
"I feel embarrassed," he said, "because I'm the kind of player that I love to win, and this year, we didn't play the way we have to play. I feel embarrassed for myself. I'm not talking about anybody else. It's just myself, and I feel disappointed. That's why I want to come back and show I'm ready to go."
Whether or not the Tigers feel that way appears like it will come down to a gauge of the shortstop market, both via free agency and trades.
Dombrowski spoke highly of utility man Ramon Santiago, who has played solidly in Renteria's place over the season's final week. Dombrowski was not certain, however, whether Santiago could play at the same level on an everyday basis.
The Tigers could also end up with a platoon at shortstop, Dombrowski said. Whatever they do, however, defense is going to be a priority.
"We need to get better defensively at shortstop," Dombrowski said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.