SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants won last year's World Series, but they've already lost its Most Valuable Player. Edgar Renteria, whose three-run homer provided San Francisco's scoring in its Series-clinching Game 5 victory, all but officially left the Giants, based on reports Thursday that he had agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds' salary proposal eclipsed the $1 million the Giants offered him. It's also believed that Cincinnati wooed Renteria with promises of playing time that exceeded what he was likely to receive with San Francisco.
Renteria created a stir in mid-December when he told ESPN Deportes that the Giants' offer represented "a lack of respect. A total disrespect." Added Renteria, who earned $18.5 million in two seasons with the Giants, "To play for a million dollars, I'd rather stay with my private business and share more time with my family." Giants vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said he was told by Barry Meister, Renteria's agent, that those comments didn't accurately reflect the 35-year-old's lingering interest at the time in returning to San Francisco. Renteria's remarks likely were ignored by Giants players, who universally respected the 15-year veteran. "He was a steady presence," left-hander Jeremy Affeldt said. "Whether he played or not, he was ready to do his job." Teammates appreciated Renteria's willingness to share his baseball acumen. The most publicized example of this occurred late in the season, when Renteria told Cody Ross that he wasn't planting his front (left) foot quickly enough as he prepared to swing. Ross adjusted, became a key performer down the stretch and was named MVP of the National League Championship Series against Philadelphia. "He knew the game from every angle," Affeldt said. Affeldt also praised Renteria for serving as a "bridge" between English- and Spanish-speaking players. If Renteria sensed any tension or uncomfortable feelings between players of different backgrounds, he'd take a proactive role in defusing the situation, Affeldt said. "He was a quiet leader," Affeldt said. "But he was a strong quiet leader, both on and off the field." From strictly a baseball standpoint, replacing Renteria should be easy for the Giants, despite his postseason feats. He was expected to fill a utility infielder's role, something Mike Fontenot and Mark DeRosa can handle. Given newcomer Miguel Tejada's 158-game annual average from 1999-2010, the Giants might not need much backup help at shortstop, Renteria's primary position. Giants executives would not comment on Renteria's departure until the Reds announce that his signing is official. Renteria will remain immortal in Giants lore for his efforts against Texas as the Giants captured their first World Series since 1954. He hit .412 (7-for-17) with two home runs and six RBIs, neatly bookending his Series-winning hit for Florida in 1997. Until the World Series, Renteria's stint with San Francisco was a trying one. Shoulder and elbow ailments plagued him in 2009, when he hit a career-low .250 in 124 games. Last season, he went on the 15-day disabled list three times with different injuries. Overall as a Giant, he hit .259 with eight home runs, 70 RBIs, a .316 on-base percentage and a .344 slugging percentage in 196 games. But as Affeldt indicated, any Giant will insist that Renteria's contributions transcended his statistics. "I wish the best for him," Affeldt said. "He's a great guy and I'm glad he decided to keep playing."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.