Long in the tooth? Giants will come calling

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derosa-091228.jpgLast year the San Francisco Giants signed 33-year-old free agent shortstop Edgar Renteria to a two-year, $18.5 million contract, in theory, to boost their offense.

Renteria, whose rapid decline had already been spotted by everyone except this guy, rewarded general manager Brian Sabean with a .250/.307/.328 line that included his fewest homers (5) since 1998, and the Giants boosted their offense by scoring *17 more runs than in 2009.

*I’m going to chalk this up almost entirely to the emergence of Pablo Sandoval. Quibble with me if you must, but don’t anger the Panda.

On Tuesday, the Giants will announce they are signing free agent Mark DeRosa — who soon turns 35 — to a two-year deal that is reportedly worth $12 million. Compared to the Renteria deal, this will be a bargain.

At this point in his career, DeRosa can play anywhere on the field except shortstop, center field and catcher. He’s coming off a career-best 23-homer season, and his career line at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park (.278/.326/.468) isn’t much different from his overall numbers (.275/.343/.424).

But he also struggled last season after injuring his wrist, and while it will help the defense to put DeRosa at third base and move Sandoval to first, DeRosa is not exactly a stellar defensive player. Versatile, yes. Stellar, no. In fact, he comes in at -6.5 in UZR/150 at third base over his career.

Given DeRosa’s age, his declining defense, and his recent injury struggles, I would expect this signing to come off only slightly better than the Renteria inking, in large part because he is cheaper. A good addition? Certainly. But a move to put the Giants over the top? Doubtful.

But that’s OK, there will be plenty of older, fair-to-mediocre free agents on the market entering the 2011 season, so Sabean can once again quench his thirst for the wiley veteran crowd. Lyle Overbay, anyone?

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.