Reds make Renteria deal official, sign Lewis

Reds make Renteria deal official, sign Lewis

CINCINNATI -- A busy January continued for the Reds on Monday as they checked another item off the wish list by signing outfielder Fred Lewis to a one-year contract worth $900,000.

The club also made the anticipated addition of shortstop Edgar Renteria official when his signing to a one-year contract was announced. Renteria will receive $2.1 million in base salary with an additional $900,000 in incentives based on plate appearances.

Both players underwent their physicals Monday in Cincinnati and passed. The club's roster is now full at 40 players with the signings.

"I think I'm done," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "These are a couple of pieces we felt we needed."

The Reds were in search of a left-handed-hitting outfielder for the bench and a potential leadoff hitter and the club has nabbed both with the 30-year-old Lewis, who was given a big league contract.

Lewis was signed over fellow free-agent outfielder Scott Podsednik, a veteran lefty leadoff hitter who was also courted.

"We felt we had more upside with Lewis, both with his age and in having control over him for a longer period of time," Jocketty said. "We liked his all-around game. We think he'll fit in well with our club. He feels he's capable of stealing more bases than he did. I'm anxious to see what he can do. He'll be a fun guy to watch."

Last season with the Blue Jays, Lewis batted .262 with a .332 on-base percentage and 17 steals. During a career that began in 2006 with the Giants, he has 199 starts from the leadoff spot -- more than any other place in the order -- and is batting .271 with a .343 OBP and 38 steals.

"There were multiple offers but none presented the fit Cincinnati did -- from the manager on down," Lewis' agent, Scott Leventhal, said. "His ability to lead off is something everybody is excited about. He's able to do whatever [manager] Dusty Baker needs."

Able to play all three outfield spots, Lewis could man left field on days when the matchup isn't so good for right-handed power hitting left fielder Jonny Gomes.

"We'll see how it plays out in Spring Training and it could potentially be [a platoon], yes," Jocketty said.

Until last week, the Reds had a shortage of left-handed hitters in the outfield, with only mainstay right fielder Jay Bruce on the roster. On Jan. 3, another lefty was brought in when Jeremy Hermida signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey -- both right-handed -- are also outfielders on the roster.

Renteria was limited to 72 games last season as a role player in part because of three trips to the disabled list. The 35-year-old batted .276 with three home runs, 22 RBIs and a .332 on-base percentage with the Giants and was their World Series Most Valuable Player.

"Edgar addresses the need for veteran leadership," Jocketty said. "He's a veteran middle infielder that can play shortstop and help Paul Janish. It's a good move. He still has a lot left in him."

Since Renteria agreed to terms on a deal with the Reds on Thursday, there had been a lot of speculation about the status of Janish at shortstop. When the club gets to camp, he will still be the regular shortstop.

"I called Janish on Saturday to make sure he knew that," Jocketty said.

Renteria is a 15-year big league player with stops for the Marlins, Cardinals, Red Sox, Braves, Tigers and Giants. He played for Jocketty in St. Louis from 1999-2004 and has appeared in three World Series over his career. His resume includes five All-Star appearances, two Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards.

Lifetime, Renteria is batting .287 with a .344 on-base percentage and he has a reputation as a positive influence in the clubhouse. Cincinnati was also trying to replenish some veteran leadership after letting free agents Arthur Rhodes, Orlando Cabrera and Laynce Nix move on.

Agent Barry Meister, who represents Renteria, said he held sincere talks with at least four clubs, but cited Jocketty and Baker as key drawing points.

"We thought there would hopefully be a significant amount of playing time in a couple of places," Meister said. "He's been with Walt before and knows what he can do. He wanted to stay in the National League and be with a winning club. All of that was a factor as well.

"He also has great respect for Dusty and believes he gets the most from veteran players and puts them in position to succeed. All of that added up to Cincinnati being the right place."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.