Another off-season question was answered for the Detroit Tigers before the team packed up and turned out the lights yesterday. General manager Dave Dombrowski announced before the Tigers' make-up game with the White Sox that they won't pick up Edgar Renteria's $11 million option for next season.
Renteria thus becomes the free agent and the Tigers will begin shopping for a new shortstop. However, that shortstop could still be Renteria if the Tigers can't find a viable alternative or he decides to come back at a lower price. (As it is, the Tigers will pay Renteria $3 million to buy out his option.)
Dombrowski made it pretty clear in his remarks to the media that Renteria's defense was the most disappointing aspect of his season. (Interestingly, as Jason Beck points out in that article, his range factor increased from last year, which makes you wonder how valuable that stat really is.) He also admitted, however, that the deal was made thinking Brandon Inge would be the Tigers' third baseman, perhaps lessening any concerns about Renteria's diminishing range.
(That would also seem to lend credence to the theory that Dombrowski never would've traded Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez for Renteria had he known that Miguel Cabrera would become available a month later.)
But Renteria was also disappointing at the plate, batting .270/.317/.382 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs, all of which were lesser numbers that he put up with Atlanta a year ago despite playing in 14 more games with Detroit. However, his performance did improve considerably after the All-Star break.
So who might the Tigers' shortstop be next year? Any upgrade will probably have to come through a trade. The free agent crop is pretty thin, especially considering that if Detroit doesn't want to pay Renteria big money, they'll probably frown at signing someone like Rafael Furcal or Orlando Cabrera. (Renteria, by the way, said he'd like to come back to Detroit, if possible.)
If all that's available is a low-hitting/good-fielding shortstop, why not just give the job to Ramon Santiago? Perhaps Santiago, platooned with another low-cost veteran, could be a suitable stop-gap until one of the Tigers' shortstop prospects (two of whom Dombrowski spoke highly) is ready for prime time.