Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
I understand the frustrations to those fans who want to see the deal net out in something of value for the team, especially after giving up a pair of talented prospects to acquire Renteria. That being said, this is like any other business - the deal made last fall is now a sunk cost, we can do nothing to get those players back, the focus needs to be on the here and now, and what the best move for the Tigers is. And while it hurts, and we all wish the Tigers had some more financial freedom, with the limited cash available, the Tigers simply couldn't risk most of that money being tied up in an under-performing shortstop in Renteria. With much more glaring needs on the mound and behind the plate, that's where the Tigers' focus needs to be. Sure, there was always the chance that Renteria would still sign elsewhere. But if he accepted arbitration, he could hamstring the Tigers in 2009 financially, either potentially forcing them to make a deal they didn't want to achieve some financial wiggle room, or simply by being forced to return virtually the same team that finished dead last in the division in 2008. That risk, for a pair of draft picks that may or may not turn out, simply wasn't worth it.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
While I completely understand the cries for Renteria to be offered arbitration, I ultimately think this was a move based in sound research and decision making; though maybe not necessarily with the right base assumptions. Without any first hand knowledge, there is certainly an appearance that the Tigers are getting a little cost conscious; and I can't say I blame them given the state of the economy and the epic failure of this team in 2008 despite tons of money being pumped in. If they're looking to cut costs, then they simply couldn't afford to risk having to pay Renteria somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million in 2009. I am confident the front office did their due diligence in sending out feelers on the likelihood that Renteria would be signed by another team if offered arbitration. I am also quite confident that some of the interest levels in Renteria have been exaggerated in the media, and that there wasn't a market for him at anywhere near the money he was going to make through arbitration. That said, I simply don't see how the potential for two draft picks could out weigh the risk of having to pay that much money on a team that appears to be looking for ways to shed some payroll. Selfishly, I certainly would have liked a couple extra draft picks to help restock a depleted farm system, but not at the cost of an over-priced Edgar Renteria for one year and possibly a limit on pitching upgrades as a result.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
Would it have been nice to offer arbitration? Absolutely, but when you pay someone $3 million to stay away in the first place, I think that pretty much ended Edgar Renteria's brief stay in Detroit. Dave Dombrowski's M.O. has been to totally wash his hands of players regardless of compensation, and when you factor in the implications that Renteria could've potentially made more money through arbitration than he would have had his option been picked up in the first place, that pretty much sealed his fate, even though the Tigers are in need of a shortstop.
Would Renteria accept arbitration? I have sneaking suspicion he would have. Leading up to the deadline date, the Giants and Cardinals were considered the leaders for his services with the Dodgers showing a little interest. Had the Tigers offered, the Cardinals and Dodgers would have likely been out, since it would've cost them their first-round pick, which would've left only the Giants, who haven't been bashful about losing picks in the past, but may have balked about losing a pick for Renteria. This would've left Renteria with only one alternative: Accept arbitration. Another thing you have to factor in is that Renteria wouldn't have been opposed to coming back, based on the comments he made towards the end of the season. With the Tigers seemingly having little money to shore up many holes, the team couldn't afford to have a good chunk of that money going to Renteria.
I am aware that the Tigers could've possibly traded him after signing him, and that his contract wouldn't be fully guaranteed until the end of spring training, but their is the possibility that the other teams may have finalized their shortstop plans, leaving the Tigers without a trade partner, and if Renteria wasn't going to be their man, they still would've had to go get someone, or make a full-time commitment to Ramon Santiago. Keep in mind, Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu weren't offered arbitration by their respective teams because teams didn't want to risk having them accept and get deals in the $13-15 million range that would've drastically altered their budgets for next year, so it wasn't just the Tigers who had to think about those implications.
Had the Tigers not had to pay the buyout on his option (Boston originally agreed to pick it up when he was dealt to Atlanta), I think they would've offered since the total amount of money would've made more sense.
For now, I will take Dombrowski at his word and say finances were the reason they didn't offer, and that makes sense. However, if finances were the reason they didn't offer arbitration to Renteria, I would think that this would be the primary reason that the Tigers would not trade for Jack Wilson, since the Tigers want someone for just a year until Cale Iorg is ready, but if they do make a trade, I will be a lot more critical of this move.
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