September 18, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Risk and Reward If Pedroia's Contract Extension is Accelerated

He’s the rarest of breeds in professional sports. Drafted by his team out of college, he came up through the minors and after breaking into the bigs has stayed with the same team for his career. He’s only 29 and remains one of the premier second basemen in Major League Baseball. Dustin Pedroia has been an All-Star, an MVP, a World Champion and, as of 2012, the recipient of an ass-kicking by the entire league on a losing Red Sox team for the first time in his career. Now, as he recently told WEEI, he wants to be a member of the Red Sox for life.

In an appearance on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove show, Pedey remarked on Boston’s desire to talk about a contract extension this year, saying “That definitely, it made me smile. Obviously, I want to be a Red Sox my whole career and play in that city, turn this whole thing around to get back to where we were my first couple years there.”

It’s a feel good story that fans may want but carries with it some weighty realities that will need to be thought through. Boston owns Pedroia’s contract for the next two years with an option for 2015. By the time his next contract kicks in he’ll be 32. If he’s as serious about staying in Boston as he says he is, he’ll be looking for 3-4 years and a fat payday.

A contract of that term would take Pedroia into his mid-thirties and put the Sox on the hook when the possibility of his risk to injury and resulting potential loss of production is more of  a reality. Given Pedroia’s history of flat out, no holds barred field play and vicious swing at the plate, the odds tilt in favor of an injury, possibly career-ending or long-term debilitating.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the guy. Up until last season, when I wished I had seen a different kind of leader emerge instead of the sometimes snarky and petulant Pedroia, he hasn’t been able to do any wrong. I’d take eight other guys just like him and go to war any day, any time.

But baseball is a business too. If Boston both wants to think this far ahead and thinks enough of Pedey to essentially grant him the baseball equivalent of franchising, they should also plan for the future. Crap happens. People get injured. Circumstances change. If Boston is going to do it, be bold. Extend the contract and be equally forward thinking by looking at the hottest high school and early career college second basemen in the nation. Ice one, bring him along through the system and for goodness sake give him enough time with with Pedroia so that Pedey can help to hone the skill set. The work ethic and the fire in the belly, however, needs to come from within to be consistently at the top of your game.

How exactly is this accomplished? If I knew that I’d be at the right hand of Ben Cherington and not popping off from the comfort of my chair at home.

Takes a second to say goodbye
Say goodbye, oh, oh, oh
It takes a second to say goodbye
Say goodbye, oh, oh, oh, say bye bye
- Seconds, U2 

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