The Renteria Signing

Reports are that today the Reds agreed to a 1 year, $3 M contract with 35-year old Edgar Renteria.  Word is that the $ figure is the maximum value of the contract, based on incentives.  Renteria's career is winding down, but he did gain notoriety last year as the reigning World Series MVP, hitting .412/.444/.765 with a pair of key home runs.  

But, as they say, that's five games.  Here's how he's hit over the past three years:

Hitting:

Year Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG ISO BABIP wOBA Bat
2008 32 547 7% 13% 0.270 0.317 0.382 0.112 0.290 0.308 -10
2009 33 510 8% 15% 0.250 0.307 0.328 0.078 0.281 0.283 -20
2010 34 267 8% 18% 0.276 0.332 0.374 0.098 0.323 0.314 -2
ZiPS 35
400 8% 14% 0.265 0.318 0.362 0.097 0.300 0.307 -8
Oliver 35
458 8% 14% 0.258 0.312 0.355 0.097 --- 0.297 -13

Renteria has a better eye than Brandon Phillips, and makes contact enough to sport a batting average that will often be un-horrible.  That's about all I can say that's particularly positive, though.  But despite the home runs in the world series, he doesn't have much power these days, and he doesn't walk enough to be a factor.  Last year was his best year rate-wise since his excellent 2007 with the Braves, and he was still below average (though only by a little bit).

In 2011, taking an average of ZiPS and Oliver indicates that he's a well below-average hitter: -10 runs compared to average in the estimated playing time, or about -17 runs per season. So, we can't count on him to help with the bat.

Fielding:

There's a lot disagreement among the various fielding metrics. Extrapolated to a full season, the Fan Scouting Report had him at -16 runs last season.  Those data indicate that he has a weak but accurate arm, decent instincts and hands, but below average acceleration and speed. 

His three year UZR/162 average is +1 RAA, but -10 RAA by DRS.  A weighted average of all of these puts him at -10 runs per season.  Yikes.

Position:

He plays shortstop, which is the scarcest position on the field save for catcher.  We typically give +7.5 runs per season as a "bonus" for these players.

Replacement:

I'm using 20 runs/season as the gap between a replacement player and an average hitter until I hear otherwise.

Total Value:

-17 hitting - 10 fielding + 7.5 position + 20 replacement = 0.5 runs per season above replacement. Whatever his playing time, we're essentially at 0 to 0.1 WAR.  He comes out as a replacement player.

Contract:

The Reds are paying up to $3 M/yr, which is valued at something like 0.6 WAR. I have Renteria as a replacement player here, so this comes out as an overpay/waste of money.  ::grumble::

Ok, so let's be fair to the Reds and say that there's a margin of error of at least +/- 0.5 WAR on any valuation I produce.  This really is back of the envelope stuff, here.  That means that Renteria really might still be a true talent 0.5 WAR player, which would make an incentive-based contract a fair one if he plays like that.  'Course, I could also be rating him too high...

Either way, it's still the case that Janish--who is probably somewhere in the vacinity of a 1 WAR player, I think--should still be the starter.  He's not great, but he's better than replacement!

But with up to $3 M committed to Edgar, will he start?  I dunno.  This one feels different from the Cabrera signing to me.  Renteria lost significant playing time last year due to injuries, and by the time the postseason rolled along it wasn't even clear that he was the Giants' starter.  Were it not for Pablo Sandoval's implosion, he might well have been benched in favor of Juan Uribe during the world series and not had the chance to go all MVP on the Rangers.  I think this time, Janish is still likely to get decent playing time.  Hope so, anyway.

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