Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia’s knee clouds second base picture


The Boston Red Sox may be facing the loss of Dustin Pedroia to a chronic knee injury.  What options exist for second? One may be Dee Gordon of the Marlins.

Just what is a “bad knee?” Is there a definitive description for a bad knee? The Boston Red Sox had Bill Mueller win a batting championship, be part of a heroic comeback in 2004, and retire at age 35 due to “bad knees.”

The Red Sox now have a “bad knee” that is hobbling both Dustin Pedroia and Red Sox’ future decision-making.

"“Dustin did see the specialists,” Dave Dombrowski told the Boston Herald’s Chad Jennings. “He is digesting the information and we are going to talk sometime the beginning of next week.”"

Pedroia is under contract through the 2021 season for $56 million and that may be money that could join an illustrious list of dead money. Knowing Pedroia, he will undoubtedly make every effort to be on the field. Is that a plus or a minus?

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After his knee trouble started, Pedroia was a “gamer” who attempted to play and it showed. For the season Pedroia had a 1.9 fWAR that was tenth among American League second basemen. In 2016, Pedroia had 5.4 fWAR. Despite the knee situation Pedroia still corralled a league best among second sackers 9.7 UZR/150.  Where it degrades is the Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) category where Pedroia had a -2. Last season Pedroia had a +12 DRS.

Pedroia is no longer the best second baseman in the AL since a new and younger crop has surfaced, but Pedroia can still hit – his .293 average led the Red Sox.  Pedroia also walked more than he struck out and topped all AL batters with an 89.8 contact percent. Pedey can still play, but the note is will he be in one piece? Can he stay on the field?

There are options for the Red Sox to cover this situation. Brock Holt played second and just about everywhere else.  Marco Hernandez can hit and his fielding?  Well – Hernandez can hit. Tzu-Wei Lin is young, speedy and a rookie. Eduardo Nunez will be looking for a nice payday, but another option exists, but like many options it will not be cheap.

"“But if you were to get it fixed, the recovery is a long time, so I have a lot of things to weigh in with the doctors and figure it out.” – Dustin Pedroia"

Derek Jeter is the front man for the group that purchased the Miami Marlins – are they still called that? Anyways, in best Marlin’s tradition, they are going to slash payroll and that means contracts that they consider burdensome.  One for consideration is that of Dee Gordon, who is signed through 2021 for $50 million.

Gordon has exceptional speed and led the National League in stolen bases with 60.  Gordon is a lefty hitter with no power, but has a batting championship in his past and hit .308 for the Marlins. Gordon posted a 3.3 fWAR and a 7.3 UZR/150. Gordon is five years younger than Pedroia and unlike Pedroia is one who does not seek out a free pass at the plate.

The issue is twofold – what do you give up and what do you do with Pedroia? The first issue would be interesting as the Marlins most certainly will be looking at young and controllable players. The Red Sox’ minor league system is not the golden harvest it once was, so movement there may be limited.

The Red Sox do have talent that may be offered from the major league collection. Jackie Bradley could be offered up as a significant part of any package, but the Marlins do have a rather solid outfield.  That, however, could change if they finally move Giancarlo Stanton.

The Red Sox have a pitcher of note in Eduardo Rodriguez and as much as one gets cold sweats dealing pitchers it could be necessary and E-Rod could join JBJ. My assumption would be a second base prospect would have to be included in any deal and that means Lin. A substantial package.

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The Red Sox other option is Nunez, which is  the best case since you are committing money and not players. Nunez final contract could be quite similar to what the Marlins are now paying Gordon. Nunez issue is a “bad knee” and that was clear in his being carried off the field in the ALDS. If Nunez gets a green health light his upside of versatility makes Nunez a solid path to follow.

What do you do with Pedroia?

The next few weeks will give a view of just how serious Pedroia’s knee is. And if an operation is in the future, it will be the second time around.  If this is a chronic condition then second base may be out of the picture. Is designated hitter possible? Pedroia has only 40 at-bats as a DH with a .250 average, so the sample is small.  First base also is a possibility that I once wrote about, but the final decision is based on medical evaluation.

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From my perspective the best insurance policy is to simply spend the money and sign Nunez. Nunez may be considered a utility player, but based on history the Red Sox may have Nunez in for 140 games. The other options you do not have the experience factor and with Gordon you assume payroll and give up players. I believe the Red Sox have given up enough the last two years.