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Renteria agrees to 4-year, $40m deal with Sox

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan
Globe Staff / December 15, 2004

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BARRANQUILLA, Colombia—Edgar Renteria has agreed to a four-year $40 million contract with the Red Sox today, giving Boston an All-Star shortstop.

"The biggest reason was that Boston is a traditional team," Renteria said poolside from his home in Colombia. "They won the Series this year and I like to play on a winning team like Boston, St. Louis or any team that has the opportunity to win."

Renteria, 29, a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glover, was the top shortstop on the free agent market. A career .289 hitter with a .346 on-base percentage, Renteria is a gifted fielder and clubhouse leader who has gone to the postseason five of the last eight years with the Marlins and Cardinals. He drove in the winning run for the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.

St. Louis lost to Boston in four games in the World Series, and Renteria made the last out, grounding out to Keith Foulke. "I played with them for six years but finally we didn't come to an accord."

A nine-year veteran, Renteria’s decision came down to Boston and St. Louis. "It (Boston's offer) was more generous. They were more interested in my playing for them."

The Red Sox offer also includes an option for a fifth year.

According to Wednesday’s Boston Globe, the Sox, whose financial position became more flexible Monday after Pedro Martinez's departure, were believed to have offered Renteria about $36 million over four years, trumping St. Louis's reported final offer of $32 million over four years. It seems that offer had been increased by $4 million Tuesday.

The Sox have aggressively pursued Renteria since they began to sense that Martinez may not return. General manager Theo Epstein has indicated he considers Renteria "a great player," as has Orlando Cabrera, who made no secret that he views Renteria a better all-around player than himself.

Renteria will both anchor the Sox infield and provide another key weapon in the lineup. One of the few questions about his transition to Boston might be how he would deal with the intense scrutiny and expectations associated with playing for the Sox after he has spent his career in the relatively docile baseball markets of Miami and St. Louis.

The infield may be upgraded with Renteria, but replacing Martinez's 16 wins last season is a different story.

The Sox remained focused on trying to sign free agent righthander Matt Clement, free agent lefthander Odalis Perez, or trade for Florida's A.J. Burnett among other options in the wake of Martinez's departure.

The Sox may face a greater need to trade some of their young talent for a front-line pitcher as they already tried to do in pursuing Arizona ace Randy Johnson and Oakland's Tim Hudson. That means Bronson Arroyo is likely to continue seeing his name surface, as he did in the Johnson and Hudson cases (the Sox appear to have no chance at acquiring either).

"If I look at it realistically, there aren't that many guys on our team who are young and fairly cheap like me and Kevin Youkilis and Mark Bellhorn, so I would expect my name to be out there a little bit," Arroyo said before word broke of Martinez's departure. "It would be a disappointment if they traded me, but it's a business and I understand that."

Arroyo, 27, emerged as one of the best bargains among American League starters last season as he earned $332,500 and went 10-9 with a 4.03 ERA and ranked among the leaders in batting average allowed (.249) and fewest walks per nine innings (2.4), among other categories.

He had planned to spend part of the winter scuba diving near his Florida home with teammate Lenny DiNardo, but his plans have changed amid a flood of opportunities after the World Series. A moonlighting musician, Arroyo is most intrigued about traveling to Los Angeles next month to record an album he expects to be distributed by Warner Brothers.

Meanwhile, Arroyo reluctantly monitors Boston's trade talks.

"I'm trying not to pay attention, but it's hard not to because I love playing in Boston," he said. "I want to stay there. I hope when Feb. 15 comes, I'll be in a Red Sox uniform.

Information from today’s Boston Globe was used in this report.

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