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The Giants’ Offer to Renteria: Disrespectful or Logical?

He batted .412 with two home runs in the World Series, including the series-winning three-run bomb off of Cliff Lee in Game 5. He won World Series MVP, and won the hearts of Giants fans in the process. And, his reward from the organization? A $1 million contract.

Wait, what?

Despite his World Series MVP, Giants SS Edgar Renteria is left with a $1 million contract.

34-year-old Giants SS Edgar Renteria was a key component in the franchise’s first World Series win since moving to San Francisco in 1958. Now famous for batting in two World Series-winning RBIs 13 years apart, the first coming in 1997 with the Florida Marlins, Renteria was expected to retire at the end of the season. That is, unless he got offers that rewarded his contributions.

The Giants organization, however, while appreciative of his efforts in the World Series, were only willing to offer the aging veteran a one-year tender for $1 million. They previously passed on his 2011 contract option, worth $9.5 million. Meanwhile, they recently signed aging former San Diego Padres SS Miguel Tejada to a one-year deal for $6.5 million. Upon hearing the lowball offer, Renteria wasn’t what anyone would call pleased.

“That offer from the Giants was a lack of respect. A total disrespect,” Renteria told ESPNdeportes.com. A recent ESPN SportsNation poll tends to agree: out of 19,299 voters (as recent as December 17, 2010), 68% characterize the Giants’ offer “insulting”, while 32% consider it “fair”.

On the surface, the offer looks pretty straight-forward: a low-ball offer for a major contributor to the Giants’ championship run. However, those on the other side of the aisle believe that Renteria’s offer was more than adequate, for an aging shortstop that only managed to contribute significantly in the postseason. Renteria found himself on the DL three different times during the 2010 regular season, managing to play in only 72 games.

Furthermore, Renteria first signed with the Giants during the 2008 Hot Stove, on a two-year, $18.5 million contract. Playing for more than $9 million a year, he fell flat in 2009, playing in only 124 games and setting career-lows in runs (50) and hits (115). 2010 paid even smaller dividends for the Giants in the regular season, as Renteria missed 90 games. With big contracts already committed to minimal contributors (see: Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand), the Giants Brass seemingly couldn’t bring themselves to do it again – even with a World Series MVP.

Yankees SS Derek Jeter had the same issues with his team that Renteria is having with the Giants.

The way I see things, I agree that there is no quantifying his contributions to the clubhouse, as well as the field. However, it is difficult to rationalize giving a 34-year-old a significant amount of money, who is obviously on the downside of his career, and who only played in 60.5% of his games through the length of his contract. Renteria admitted it, himself: Baseball is a business, and business decisions have to be made for the good of the organization.

While many need only look at his stellar play during the 2010 MLB Postseason to say the offer is bogus, there is one thing I can say for certain: the majority of them are not Giants fans. Those who followed the Giants, even for the past three years, understand the front office is trying to be more spendthrift after the deals they have made in the past. Personally, I would not be at all surprised if the Giants did the same thing to Zito or Rowand when they were freed from their contracts – that is, unless, they improve dramatically.

As for Renteria’s personal offense to the contract offer, I don’t blame him – after all, as World Series MVP, one would think he would at least get something substantially better than a little more than the league minimum. However, he needs to gain a little perspective: based on performance, and not postseason sentiment, how much does he really deserve? What’s more, what can he really demand in order to keep playing, considering he has no other substantial offers to speak of?

Take Aubrey Huff, who recently scored a nice two-year deal with the Giants on November 23. While some questioned the signing, valued at $23 million, it made sense for the organization, despite his age (32). After all, he led the team in many offensive statistical categories in 2010, and did not show signs of slowing down.

This whole situation speaks to players automatically equating “worth and respect” to “salary”. The only reason Renteria feels “disrespected” is because he believes the number on his paychecks speaks to how much the organization feels he is worth as a person, which obviously isn’t the case. I’m sure Bochy, Neukom and company feel Renteria is a valuable part of the organization – just not necessarily from an on-the-field perspective.

It was the same case with New York Yankees SS Derek Jeter – while still serving a vital role as team captain, and considered an institution in pinstripes, Jeter was declining in production over the past couple years. He couldn’t bring himself to accept a substantial offer from his current team, because he thought he deserved more, as a result of his past contributions. But the offers were not saying anything to his self-worth – it was about his current production on the field.

In any case, it is the fate of all older players who are prone to broken-down bodies at the twilight of their careers. Despite the few key plays Renteria was responsible for that bagged a World Series championship for the City by The Bay, it couldn’t equate to a huge contract. That was especially when the rest of his recent body of work was taken into account. While he deserves more than $1 million, a big contract logically didn’t make much sense for the organization.

Thank you, Edgar. But … Sorry, Edgar.

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