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 Renteria files for free agency

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PostSubject: Renteria files for free agency   Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:17 am

11/03/08 7:01 PM EST
Renteria files for free agency
Tigers shortstop to test market along with Farnsworth, Fossum

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- Shortstop Edgar Renteria, whose contract option was declined by the Tigers, filed for free agency on Monday, as did relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Casey Fossum.

The move puts Renteria back on the open market for the first time since 2004, and could land him back in the National League, where he has thrived over the course of his career.

The Tigers acquired Renteria from the Braves a year ago in a trade that sent two prospects to Atlanta, including right-hander Jair Jurrjens. While Jurrjens went on to win 13 games for the Braves, the 33-year-old Renteria spent much of the season trying to recover from a slow start before finding his bat down the stretch.

For the year, Renteria hit .270 in 138 games with 22 doubles, 10 home runs and 55 RBIs. Hidden within those totals, however, was a relatively solid second half in which the longtime National Leaguer seemed to catch up with American League pitching.

After heading into the All-Star break with a .254 average, Renteria batted .296 from that point on with a .469 slugging percentage and an .812 OPS. Seventeen of his 58 second-half hits went for doubles to go with five homers and 22 RBIs.

Though his bat came around, the disappointment for the Tigers at year's end seemed to be Renteria's defense. He actually made more plays than he did in 2007 with Atlanta, resulting in a 4.31 range factor -- putouts plus assists per nine innings -- that ranked in the middle of the pack among AL shortstops. Yet his 16 errors dropped his fielding percentage to .972, five points under his mark from last year.

"He did not have a good year defensively at shortstop," Dombrowski said at season's end.

Renteria became eligible for free agency when the Tigers decided not to pick up his $12 million contract option for 2009. Dombrowski said that the Tigers needed to improve defensively at shortstop, but he left the door open for possibly re-signing Renteria under a short-term contract until one of their prospects is ready to take over.

Renteria, for his part, has said on multiple occasions that he would like to come back to Detroit. For now, though, both sides appear set to explore the market. Renteria's agent, Barry Meister, said last week that he had not heard from the Tigers since season's end. Renteria is expected to attract interest from teams in the NL based on his performance in Atlanta the previous two seasons as well as his second-half rebound in Detroit. Some AL teams in need at his position might also be interested.

Since Renteria is a Type-A free agent, the Tigers could offer him arbitration and receive two picks in next year's First-Year Player Draft as compensation if he signs somewhere else. Renteria could also accept arbitration and get a one-year contract from the Tigers. Detroit has until the start of December to decide whether to offer arbitration. If Renteria signs with another team before then, the Tigers would get the compensation picks.

Farnsworth, 32, went 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 16 appearances for the Tigers after coming over from the Yankees in the Ivan Rodriguez trade at the end of July. He allowed 27 hits over 16 innings, including four home runs, while striking out 18 batters. He did not pitch over the season's final two weeks because of tightness in his back.

Meister, who also represents Farnsworth, said he would be open to returning to the Tigers. Whether the interest would be mutual is another question.

Fossum, who turns 31 years old next January, went 3-1 with a 5.66 ERA in 31 games after the Tigers purchased his contract from Triple-A Toledo at the beginning of June. Left-handed hitters batted .243 against him, compared with a .310 average from right-handed batters.

The filings leave left-hander Kenny Rogers as the lone Tigers player eligible for free agency who has yet to file. The 43-year-old ended the season unsure whether he would come back to pitch another season or retire, and Dombrowski said last Friday that he doesn't know Rogers' plans. He would likely file for free agency either way, and he has until Nov. 13 to do so.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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