The Boston Red Sox have a commitment to Dustin Pedroia that extends to 2021. What options exist if his skills deteriorate?
Dustin Pedroia may present a long-term dilemma to the Boston Red Sox if his skill set deteriorates, especially defensively.
The first half of 2015 demonstrated the bat was back, but the fielding was languishing into the average range from exceptional range. How will the glove respond in 2016? Pedroia is in his usual four hours a day workout so you know he puts in the work. How will the body respond? In 2015, the injuries were a bit different in that his major leg injury was the first that was not game related, but wear and tear related. At 32 years old that is of concern. For the sake of exploring options, let’s assume that Pedroia performs as he did in 2015 only for an entire season.
What happens in 2017 with Pedroia?
Enter some possible scenarios with two being related directly to two up in lights prospects that apparently are viewed by some pundits as future stars. The first is Yoan Moncada, who is young, talented and has an investment by management that is the GNP of some lesser known countries.
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Moncada will be playing second base and if all goes as expected the path will be interesting for 2016 with the possibility Moncada could surface in Pawtucket during the season. If that happens, expect a September appearance at Fenway Park for a taste of the big league lifestyle. A talented Moncada could be positioned at second or with his athleticism could be shifted to another position like Mookie Betts was.
That brings up Betts and Betts brings in Andrew Benintendi. A potential five-tool player who is best suited for center, but could certainly shift to right. But what about Betts? Betts previous address was second base and that was a place he played with skill and some panache. When I saw Betts in a few games in the minors, he reminded me of Pokey Reese – a great defensive second baseman, but a rather bland one at short or third.
So where does Pedroia go? How about first base?
The skill set for first defensively would be no issue. Any diminished range at second would translate into extended range at first. The height issue would, no doubt, be of concern, but baseball history is littered with first sackers well under six feet tall, but generally, it is a place where size does matter since it is also historically a power position. But even that has a caveat – Rod Carew and Vic Power never were big home run guys.
A move to first also has some other potential puzzle pieces. If Hanley Ramirez actually performs with some degree of talent he may stay entrenched in that slot. If young Sam Travis develops into a potential .300 hitting line drive machine that could be the Red Sox first baseman deep into the next decade.
The War Room in the basement at Fenway Park no doubt has various short and long-range contingencies being developed on players. This is simply another extension of solid management. Payrolls, attendance, player analysis, competition developments and numerous other “What If’s?” are discussed. Most assuredly there is a plan for 2016 and beyond if certain negative (and positive) situations unfold.
Pedroia has a deal that runs into 2021 so the Red Sox have an investment. They could also part with Pedroia and face the PR consequences – always a risky option with a player that fans have an affinity for. The reality is a move to first would be possible but unlikely based on far too many situations aligning themselves. But, hey, conjecture is always a fun pastime in RSN.