Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia’s salary is an anchor weighing down the budget

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after missing the ball in the fifth inning at Fenway Park on April 11, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after missing the ball in the fifth inning at Fenway Park on April 11, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have their sights set on getting their salary down below the $208M CBT this winter, but Dustin Pedroia’s salary isn’t helping.

Business is beginning to pick up for the Red Sox as the MLB GM Meetings have begun ahead of next month’s Winter Meetings. It’s during these times that Chaim Bloom will get his first crack as Chief Baseball Officer with the rest of the league’s front offices. We will most likely see the vision he has for the 2020 squad take shape.

One thing we know for sure is that he and the rest of the front office team in Boston want to get the salary as close to or below the $208M threshold. If they achieve this goal then they’ll effectively reset the penalty marker, and have the ability to spend big next year with the smallest of the penalties being a threat. So far the team salary is estimated to be around $222M with lots of work still needing to be done.

The Red Sox need to add some new pieces to not just their starting rotation, but to the bullpen and infield as well. They won’t be able to do so and get below the CBT unless they find more ways to either cut payroll or trade away expensive pieces. With the need to knock money off the books as a top priority this winter, one man’s wages are weighing like an anchor bringing the team down.

If David Ortiz was the heart of the Red Sox then Dustin Pedroia has to be the soul. The way in which Pedroia attacked the game on a daily basis would make any manager want him in their lineup. He’s earned every single penny that has ever been paid to him by the organization but now that situation has changed.

Dustin would injure his left knee during a defensive play in 2017 that would essentially cost him the next two years of his career. Add in multiple procedures to not only repair the knee but to also allow him to live semi-comfortably, and you get a guy that’s only seen nine games over two seasons.

It has to be a ridiculously hard pill to swallow for a guy that prides himself on suiting up every day no matter how his body feels. Sadly this time, I think his body has won.

Pedey is set to earn $13M for the 2020 season with very little idea if he’ll even be able to make it onto the field. After re-aggravating his knee early this season and having a minor procedure to clean things up, he decided to walk away and heal himself both physically and mentally. He’s been adamant that he doesn’t want to hang his cleats up just yet but he may not have a choice.

So, what are the Red Sox to do with a player that doesn’t want to hang ’em up and can’t be moved due to his injury status? Well, that’s up to Chaim Bloom to figure out. After all, he’s the one that gets paid to solve these riddles. In all seriousness though, what in the world can Boston do in this scenario? It’s a lose-lose for the team as they may have to pay a guy to NOT play, and if they force him out then they will get vilified by the fans.

It’s all going to come down to the health of the longtime second baseman and how he feels when Spring Training rolls around. The big issue with that plan is what if he can’t go when April gets here? His salary may not sound like a lot, and in the grand scheme it isn’t, but every penny will help at the moment.

Pedey was removed from the IL recently and re-activated to the 40-man roster. This means a number of things, firstly he may attempt another comeback and secondly, he will count against the CBT. Now that he’s been activated he can essentially become fair game if a team comes calling, but that’s a longshot. So he likely won’t be traded and getting served with a DFA is even more unlikely.

There really aren’t many options out there to remove Pedroia’s salary from the books despite his lack of activity. He could always be built into a package deal with other more desireable players but his addition could also force the other team to balk.

I believe there is a way that the team could re-work his deal that would give him another solid payday but then end the relationship as well. Find a number that could end things on amicable and positive terms and move on.

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I don’t know what that number looks like or how the Red Sox would achieve it with their current budget constraints. If they’re able to move some of the more expensive pieces they have like Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, or even Jackie Bradley Jr., then this can be avoided, but it shouldn’t be glossed over.

Pedroia has been at the heart of two World Series-winning teams and has given his everything to this organization. I’ll forever be thankful for the sacrifices he made with his body that has left him with such pain and the inability to play. With that said, if he can’t play then the team needs to find another avenue for his spot in the lineup.

Personally, I feel like he would be a fantastic coach and could become a hell of a lieutenant for Alex Cora. If he and the Red Sox could draw up a new contract that would wipe out his remaining balance and restructure it into a cheaper salary to be a coach, then that would be the ultimate win-win. Pedey gets to remain with Boston and be part of the game every day while the team gains a great baseball mind and a veteran leader.

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Chaim Bloom will have a hell of a task on his hands this winter as he tries to build a winning roster while cutting payroll. It won’t be an easy thing to do by any measure but he has the track record to get the job done. Dustin Pedroia has meant everything to this franchise during his 14-year career, but it may be time to move on from the veteran infielder as this team looks to the future.