Renteria to the Reds

During an off-season of inflated contracts, the Cincinnati Reds have remained one of the quietest teams in the majors. Despite winning the National League Central for the first time since 1995, the Reds haven’t made any significant acquisitions this off-season. That should change as the Reds are expected to sign Edgar Renteria to a one year deal worth up to $3 million depending on incentives. Renteria, who isn’t known for his fielding, has slipped offensively over the past two seasons. With Renteria already experiencing stages of decline, is it possible the Reds will regret this transaction?

Despite being named the MVP of the World Series, there aren’t many positives to gleam from Renteria’s time in San Francisco. In his first season with the Giants, Renteria’s batting line was brought down by a depressed BABIP and an inability to hit for power. His second season with the Giants was marred by injuries, leading to Renteria accumulating only 267 plate appearances. As a Giant, Renteria posted only 1.6 WAR over two seasons, the worst consecutive seasons of his career.

The Reds decided to sign Renteria despite his recent struggles, perhaps believing there’s a chance he will bounce back with a new team. While Renteria’s slash line from 2010 looks acceptable (.276/.332/.374), his peripherals show a player in decline. Renteria made less contact in 2010, leading to a career high strikeout rate. His line drive rate, which has hovered between 21%-24% over his career, plummeted to just 15.7% last season. Even when Renteria made contact last season, he wasn’t able to hit the ball as hard. It must be said, however, that Renteria was injured for a large part of last season and it’s possible some of his decline could be related to injuries.

The Reds have to hope that Renteria bounces back offensively, because he’s not going to provide any value with his glove. According to The Bill James Handbook, Renteria has been one of the worst defensive shortstops over the past three seasons. UZR is not as harsh, but still ranks Renteria as barely replacement level over his career. The Reds finished the 2010 season as the fourth best defensive team in the league according to UZR. The acquisition of Renteria ensures that number will regress in 2011.

Renteria’s signing relegates Paul Janish back into a utility role this season. It’s possible, however, that Janish is the better player. Janish is regarded as an excellent defender, earning praise from the scouts and the advanced metrics. In 2009, Janish posted a 11.0 UZR in only 90 games. If he ever played a full season, he could rate as one of the stronger defensive shortstops in the game.

It’s a bit more difficult to judge Janish as a hitter. In three seasons, Janish has accumulated only 609 plate appearances. Over those three seasons, however, Janish has steadily improved. With each season, Janish has improved his contact rate, walk rate, and overall slash line, while lowering his strikeout rate. It’s a small sample from each season, but it looks like Janish is making improvements as a hitter each year. In 2010, Janish and Renteria actually posted similar offensive seasons in a similar amount of plate appearances.

If Janish looks like a player on the rise, and Renteria appears to be a player in decline, why would the Reds sign Renteria as their starting shortstop? It’s possible that the Reds feel better plugging in Renteria, who they feel they can more accurately project, as opposed to hoping Janish takes another step forward. Even if Janish struggles offensively, he would provide the Reds with fantastic defense, something Renteria cannot guarantee. These concerns make Renteria a risky signing for the Reds, especially since they may already have a better shortstop on their roster.

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Chris is a blogger for He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

34 Responses to “Renteria to the Reds”

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  1. DrBGiantsfan says:

    I think Rent might bounce back a bit. As odd as this sounds, having his biceps tendon completely tear off actually helped him. When it was partially torn and inflamed, he was in severe pain. Once it completed it’s tear, he still had function and the pain was gone. That’s why he was swinging the bat better at the end of the season and the postseason.

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    • Scout Finch says:

      Whatever happened to that tendon? Never heard news of any repair or removal. If it is surgically removed, perhaps a jar of formalin in Cooperstown would be a suitable destination.

      Tendon aside, Giant fans should be pleased that it wasn’t Brian Sabean giving him a 3 mil contract. He was falling apart. I recall shoulder issues sidelining him as well and limiting his throws.

      If the Reds are playoff bound, I suppose 3 mil is a small price to play for some magic on your roster.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        The tendon tore on it own. It was not and will not be repaired. Rent has full function with the tendon torn, but is no longer in pain.

        $3 million is a steep price to pay for a backup shortstop, and I don’t blame the Giants for not paying it, but Rent was the best option for reserve SS on the market and I would have been happy to see him re-signed.

        I think he will have a modest bounceback season, but will probably not play every day.

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      • brendan says:

        I’m not sure tejada will have a better season than renteria in 2011. As I giants fan, I’m concerned about SS.

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  2. blackout says:

    Hard not to see this as a potential debit to the team. If the O-Cab and Rolen show was a study in diminishing range, Renteria’s presence will only exacerbate matters. Renteria has to hit extremely well to make this work, and I’m not holding my breath. Better to have made a move to find a LF upgrade over Gomes/Heisey, or to take a chance on a starter like Capuano than this.

    It will be interesting to see where the Reds are in 2012, when contracts for Rolen, Renteria and CoCo are up. This move indicates that there’s a sense in the FO that we need to compete this year, and I’m sure that shoring up every even slightly questionable spot on the diamond with a veteran provides comfort to Walt and Dusty.

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    • Boomer says:

      Assuming he’s a TT -15 defender and 400 plate appearances, he has to hit .326 wOBA to make the deal worth $3 million.

      1) That means he doesn’t have to hit “extremely well” to make this deal work. Fans think he’ll hit .318 but they’re projecting more PA.

      2) This is an incentive laden deal. Who knows how much he’ll ultimately get paid. If it’s $3 million, he’s probably earned it (that’s speculation).

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  3. Francis says:

    You are assuming that Rent will be the starter. Walt Jocketty has been saying this off-season that the Reds were looking for a “backup shortstop”, so it appears that Janish will get the starting nod. Of course, Dusty loves his “veteranness”, so you never know.

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  4. camisadelgolf says:

    The reason for acquiring Renteria is simple: the Reds had no shortstop depth. If Janish were to become injured, the Reds’ options would be:
    A.) Chris Valaika – a 2B with no Major League success; also lacking in AAA success come to think of it
    B.) Kris Negron – has barely played above AA and hasn’t exactly set the world on fire
    C.) Zack Cozart – most likely the SS of the future but has yet to face Major League pitching
    D.) Miguel Cairo – let’s face it–he’s only on the team for his intangibles; if he’s your SS, you might as well plan for an early draft pick next year

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    • blackout says:

      Cairo at SS? I can’t imagine the Doomsday scenario under which that would occur. Valaika and Cozart would have to be crippled, which is unlikely. Heck, Frazier would probably play before Cairo.

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  5. Chris Cwik says:

    Based on Renteria’s attitude towards the Giants initial offer, Dusty Bakers willingness to play the veterans, and the fact that he signed an incentive laden contract, I’m willing to bet he was at least promised a chance to compete for the starting spot.

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    • Scout Finch says:

      I gathered that “attitude” was media speculation. Give him some credit, he’s no dummy; after all these years he understands the business side.

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      • Everett says:

        The attitude wasn’t media speculation, it was a direct quote from his agent that Renteria was offered the chance to correct and chose not to.

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  6. jason461 says:

    Not to beat the drum to heavily, but you need to look stuff up. There has not been word one from anywhere saying the Renteria will start. It seems as though he is being signed to be a utility guy. If Janish struggles, things could change, but you should have done a bit more research.

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    • Chris Cwik says:

      From the story up at ESPN right now.

      “I feel happy for the opportunity to keep playing shortstop full-time. That was the main reason to accept the offer from the Reds,” Renteria told The deal was initially reported by

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      • jason461 says:

        That’s a quote from the player, which may or may not be reliable. Management still hasn’t said anything. At the very least, you should have hedged in your article. Not doing so indicates a lack of familiarity with your subject.

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      • jason461 says:

        Have to point out now, that John Fay, the beat writer for the Reds has tweeted that Renteria was not promised the starting job. Additional comments by Baker seem to indicate that, at the very least, it will be Janish’s job to lose.

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  7. lookatthathat says:

    The GM of the Reds, Walt Jocketty, has repeatedly said that Janish will be the starter and the club was looking for a backup SS/3B. Chris, did you hear that he will be the starter? If so….(mimes rending of clothing and gnashing of teeth…)

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  8. lookatthathat says:

    RNL represent!

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  9. CircleChange11 says:

    Once I heard the Giants’ initial offer, I thought StL might be interested in bringing Renteria back for a short contract. I liked the idea at first thinking that Renteria would be better than Theriot at SS, and Theriot would be better than Skip at 2B.

    As far as WAR goes, ER is anywhere from a 1.5 to 0 WAR player (last 3 years). In his previous 2 full seasons he was worth 1.4 and 0.3

    In 2010, ER was worth 1.3 WAR in 267 PA’s. I don;t think the SFG are getting enough credit for not over-paying him as if he really were (still) a 3-4 WAR player. that would have been tempting for quite a few teams, especially given the WS title.

    I ended up feeling the same thing about ER and the rest of the middle infield of StL … that there all likely between 0 – 2 WAR players, and BABIP will likely decide where they fall in that range. ER would have provided some depth, but probably not much more than Greene or anyone else.

    ER seems legitimately surprised that no one is paying for his “bounceback” last year. I think it’s smart not to. Again, I don;t think the SFG are getting nearly enough credit for their decisions made after the WS title. Lots of teams go nuts, offering long-term deals as if they were “Championship Bonuses” (or at least that’s my perception).

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  10. lookatthathat says:


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  11. walt526 says:

    I don’t have a problem with this signing. It’s for one year and the terms are reasonable. Renteria does offer limited upside at this point in his career, but, as an earlier poster correctly noted, the Reds were lacking SS depth. If he’s terrible, then the Reds can limit their losses and cut him if his performance is no longer worthy of a spot on the 25 man roster. Provided that they’re willing to do that, then the only thing that they stand to lose is a little bit of money (in baseball payroll terms) as its hard to see how this deal will preclude additional cost-effective additions.

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  12. redsfandan says:

    “The Reds finished the 2010 season as the fourth best defensive team in the league according to UZR. The acquisition of Renteria ensures that number will regress in 2011.”

    Renteria basically replaces Cabrera. And Cabrera wasn’t anything to write home about defensively either. So, I wouldn’t say that this move ensures anything.

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  13. Mr Punch says:

    “ER seems legitimately surprised that no one is paying for his ‘bounceback’ last year.” Yes, and that’s a problem – this guy has been known to overrate himself (abetted, it must be said, by the media) and may not be able to handle the backup/utility role. To me he’s someone you’d want to pick up if Janish fails, but not someone you’d want to carry in the meantime. This is not a vote of confidence in Janish.

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  14. BillWallace says:

    I don’t understand the totally negative outlook on this signing. First of all, the contract is ‘incentive laden’, so I would assume if he only gets 200PA he’s not getting all $3mill. If he’s just totally done as a player, which is certainly possible, what’s their loss going to be, $1mill? 1.5? That’s hardly a lot to risk.

    On his fielding, strange that you’d totally go with Bill James and ignore the stats you use on your own website. UZR says he’s been above average for the last 3 years. Personally having watched him a lot the last two years, he seemed perfectly adequate to me. Not great range, but very technically competent, and still capable of the occasional very good play. Given the available numbers, I think it’s unfair to peg him for anything below slightly below average D.

    On hitting, Zips has him at 82, which seems fair. So what’s an 82 hitting, mediocre fielding SS worth? Well, as a starter, probably at least 1 war, so definitely worth $3mill. As a backup, $1 or $1.5mill seems fair.

    Bottom line, the guy still has some value above replacement. And it doesn’t take a lot of value above replacement to justify an incentive laden contract that maxes at $3mill.

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  15. lex logan says:

    Everyone talks about Dusty Baker’s preference for veterans; seems to me if you take him at his word, he’s in love with speed. That explains playing Patterson and Taveras, and there’s no clear pattern of “vet love” otherwise in managing the Reds: Cabrera over Janish, true, but he’s played Votto, Stubbs, and Bruce when veteran options were available. The Reds needed shortstop depth and Renteria seems reasonable at the price. We’ll see who gets the playing time; when he doesn’t start, Dusty may use Janish as a defensive replacement.

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  16. AustinRHL says:

    Chris, saying that UZR rates him “barely above replacement level” for his career is very misleading, because as I know you know, replacement level is effectively agnostic about defense and so UZR is compared against league average instead. UZR has him being essentially exactly average since its implementation, and Total Zone does, too. DRS (as well as Bill James, evidently) like him less, but he’s no liability, even with age-related decline in defensive skills factored in for next season. I think this contract makes sense for a team like the Reds in an important spot on the win curve; for many teams, he’d be a waste of money, but he’s arguably less of a gamble than picking up someone from the waiver wire even though the latter would probably be fewer $/WAR. And even looking at it from a narrow-minded, straight-up market value perspective, he’s likely to be worth more than 0.6 WAR, anyway.

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  17. merizobeach says:

    Edgarbage-sloth Rented-wreck, thanks for a timely big hit and getting injured so Uribe could play everyday. Good f’n riddance.

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  18. tonysoprano says:

    I think Renteria wins that job. Just my thoughts though. Dusty’s is the only vote that counts.

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  19. polkjhydvrg says:

    [img][/img]I confirm. And I have faced it. Let’s discuss this question. Here or in PM.

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  20. polkjhydvrg says:

    [img][/img]It is not meaningful.

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