Just what possibilities do the Boston Red Sox have for Dustin Pedroia? If Pedroia can’t handle second base what are the option?
What do you do with one of the best players in Boston Red Sox history, especially with two full years remaining on his contract? For the industrious researcher into all things fiscal, that contract hit will be for $25 million if Dustin Pedroia can play again. And that money is against all things related to the luxury tax. Will a sudden surge in ethics overcome Pedroia?
Pedroia could simply walk away and retire leaving the money on the table. That is exactly what former Royals right-hander Gil Meche did after a dismal 2010 season. Meche felt it was unfair to collect $12 million when he simply could not play. Meche had already earned $52 million in his career, but the decision was either generous, foolish, stupid, ethical, or moral. I doubt Pedroia will follow in the cleat-steps of Meche.
The burning question is, can Pedroia even play? At soon to be 36-years-old with knee damage that is probably a case study in medical schools, that question will soon be answered. The first try failed and Pedroia is now in the task of another rehabilitation attempt. This is a pass or fail, but maybe just for second base?
Fielding is one issue and Pedroia is one of the best scooting around second base. Metrics or eyeball tests show that as do four Gold Glove Awards. If Pedroia’s glove value makes him a defensive liability is there other possible options?
The most obvious is designated hitter if Pedroia can still swing a bat without being carted off to dugout triage. In 2017, Pedroia hit .293 and is a career .299 hitter with extra-base power. For the sake a comparison, I would toss out the name of Paul Molitor. Molitor is in the baseball Hall of Fame and is statistically similar to Pedroia. Molitor played almost half his MLB games at DH and hit .308. The separation is Molitor’s knee was not ready for a medical exhibit.
Pedroia at DH would offer up some roster and lineup magic for manager Alex Cora. This can be viewed as a problem, but a Pedroia that can hit is similar to the problem of having too much money. Then Pedroia has to actually run the bases and if this is going to end up like the Red Sox first DH – Orlando Cepeda – the Red Sox would be better off finding a Mango tree for Petey to retire under.
If medical marvels do take place, Pedroia could be able to swing a bat and play, but play and play up to his previous standards is the next issue to attempt to resolve. Infield and outfield do have some options and third base could be one. Pedroia has the arm, quickness, and the required right and left movement are not close to the realm of second base.
Even less infield mobility is required at first base. Of course, Pedroia would be the rare first baseman with his stature, but not unheard of. The Red Sox also are in the process of collecting potential first baseman with Michael Chavis and possibly Rafael Devers. And Chavis? He could be locked in at second.
The outfield is one that can be limited as I doubt you will see a Pedroia erasing any Jackie Bradley Jr. or Mookie Betts fielding highlight films. Infielders moving to the outfield is certainly notable and left field would be the position of choice. Carl Yastrzemski has a truckload of Gold Gloves after starting as an infielder. Then you have Kevin Youkilis as best to forget Youk’s forays in the outfield.
Pedroia is his own worst enemy when it comes to injuries. Pedroia knows only one speed – fast – and makes every ball hit in his vicinity his personal mission to corral. If a fellow defender or base runner gets in the way then just chalk it up to the risk one takes – especially Pedroia.
If Pedroia cannot be a player you have an expensive – very expensive – cheerleader and coach, but the savvy Pedroia has already impacted on the coaching front. Three seasons back Pedroia noticed a flaw with David Price and this season provided a slider tutorial to Eduardo Rodriguez. Pedroia is a student of the game, extremely observant, abrasive, confrontational and well-respected. Knowledge is also needed to be dispensed in the minor league system.
Is Pedroia the type willing to pay baseball dues in the minors? Just my observation is if there is a baseball diamond Pedroia feels at home be it in Greenville, Portland, or Boston. That means the managerial trail and not exclusively in the Boston system. Baseball is checkered with Boston connections and that expands possibilities. Just a thought is Terry Francona would undoubtedly reach out to Pedroia. A possible manager in waiting?
The book on Pedroia is still open and for this fan of Pedroia, I am certainly hoping the player portion still has some pages left to write. If Pedroia is done as a player he is far too valuable a resource to sit at home or in a TV booth. Pedroia belongs on the field in a baseball capacity.