What internal options do the Red Sox have?
Well, there’s Tzu-Wei Lin who struggled at the major league level earlier this season. But he has a 119 wRC+ for AAA Pawtucket with 4 HR and 2 SB. He’s an excellent defender at short, and would be a fine replacement for Pedroia’s glove. Unlike Eduardo Nunez, who is barely passable defensively. His offensive upside is limited by a lack of home run power. But gets on base well and hits plenty of line drives.
Speaking of Eduardo Nunez, they could continue trotting him out there. He’s appeared at second 54 times this season so far. Unfortunately, his bat has failed to show up with him. He also had some knee trouble. And given the lack of stolen bases this season, it might still be bothering him. With a 66 wRC+, he needs to get hot soon or the Red Sox will be forced to try something else.
That something else might be Blake Swihart. The front office has been adamant about not giving up on him, but they simply can’t find regular playing time for him. Thus far, irregular playing time hasn’t suited him. He’s sporting a nifty 7 wRC+. That’s 93% worse than league average for those of you busting out the calculators at home. Even still, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them take one last shot at getting him going this way if Pedroia hits the 60 day DL again.
How about externally?
This is more complicated because the Red Sox have so little room before hitting the secondary luxury tax threshold. The secondary threshold is actually the third point at which penalties are assessed, but the second is a minor jump of a 12.5% tax rate. So it’s not really worth paying attention to. It’s when teams get to $40M over the $197M luxury tax threshold that really bad things start to happen.
You can get all the details here, but the gist of it is this: Once the Red Sox exceed $237M in payroll for the year, their tax rate on the overage jumps to 42.5% and their top pick in next year’s draft drops 10 spots. That may not sound like a huge drop in the draft, especially for a team picking near the end of the first round anyway. But the Red Sox likely miss out on Triston Casas if they had suffered this penalty going into the the June 2018 draft. And that would have been terrible. So they may limit themselves to minor additions in general, which means players like Dee Gordon or Scooter Gennett aren’t coming to town. It’s also possible that Dave Dombrowski, on the back of a strong draft, may decide the penalty is worth it and blow past even that secondary threshold.