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Edgar Renteria's Hardly Arbitrary Arbitration Dilemma

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Our Thanksgiving holiday was extended a bit here at BYB, so pardon us while we catch up on some of the pertinent news over the next couple of posts. Could this be the last time I get to use this Edgar Renteria photo? I've grown kind of attached to it, you know.

The Detroit Tigers, however, would no longer like to be attached to Renteria, and cut the cord with him for good yesterday by declining to offer him arbitration. And in doing so, they lose out on any draft picks (two, to be exact) that would've been received as compensation for Renteria's Type A free agent status.

Smart move? Well...

There was obviously a risk in offering Renteria arbitration, in that he might pownce on a one-year contract in which he'd likely be awarded something in the $9 million range (the salary he was paid last season). If the Tigers were interested in paying Renteria that much - or interested in him being their shortstop again, for that matter - they might have just picked up his contract option. (Although not picking up the option would've saved Detroit at least $2 million, regardless.) And we wouldn't have ever had to deal with the words "Julio Lugo."

As Billfer points out, such a risk could've been lessened by releasing (or trading) Renteria during the spring if the Tigers decided they didn't want him. But really, why go through all that trouble if Renteria wasn't actually wanted in the first place? Would the draft pick compensation have been worth the hassle? Perhaps, but possibly bringing two starting shortstops to Lakeland in February seems excessive.

But if Renteria has more lucrative offers on the table (such as the rumored two-year deal from the Giants), he more than likely would pass on arbitration with the Tigers, take the bigger contract elsewhere, and Detroit would have themselves a couple of draft picks to stockpile the farm system with. Winner, winner, turkey dinner.

A more troubling possibility was brought up by Lee (and echoed by Big Al), who wonders if the Tigers didn't even flirt with paying Renteria $9 million because they can't afford it. Otherwise, why not at least offer a contract when the team hasn't found a replacement at shortstop yet? But maybe Dave Dombrowski is confident he'll get someone who's at least a defensive upgrade, and would therefore prefer to spend that money on that player (or on, say, the bullpen). Maybe.

The most vexing thing about this whole situation, of course, is that this now means that Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez were traded for one sub-par season from Renteria. A starting pitcher who surely could've helped the Tigers last season and for years to come (though I wonder if Armando Galarraga negates that loss), and a center fielder who could've instead been traded for pitching help were both squandered. Dombrowski took a huge risk, and when the end result wasn't a World Series championship, it blew up right in his face.

Maybe that's made him gun-shy on taking any risk at all this winter.