Red Sox News: Dustin Pedroia’s latest setback leaves his career in doubt

Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia reportedly suffered a significant setback with his surgically repaired knee.

Dustin Pedroia‘s future with the Boston Red Sox is murkier than ever. The veteran second baseman has worked hard to rehab his surgically repaired knee but every time he clears one hurdle another roadblock appears.

The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham reports that Pedroia suffered a “significant setback” with his left knee. His availability for spring training is questionable and he’s mulling over his options with his family, agent and the team.

Many of us were already questioning if Pedroia would be ready when camp opens in Fort Myers next month. It would be shocking if he saw the field in any meaningful capacity before the regular season opens in the wake of his latest setback.

Pedroia has appeared in only nine games over the last two seasons. He’s had multiple procedures on his ailing left knee and endured extensive rehab programs but it hasn’t helped him stay on the field.  Pedroia is a fierce competitor who undoubtedly would fight through the pain to help his team win if he was physically able to do so. We can only imagine how soul-crushing it must be every time another setback takes him away from a game he’s so passionate about.

The 36-year old would be approaching the last stage of his career even if he had remained healthy. If another season is wiped out by his knee issues, we have to wonder if he’s already reached the end of the line. Pedroia hinted at the concept of retirement last year when he stepped away from the team for a much-needed mental breather. He showed signs of optimism that he would be ready to return earlier this offseason but his latest setback may have shattered those hopes.

It’s hard to imagine Pedroia walking away from the $25 million remaining on his contract over the next two years even if he’s physically unable to perform. The Red Sox convinced Pedroia to sign a team-friendly extension knowing there would be risk on the back end of the deal. The Players’ Association would not be pleased if he forfeited the remainder of his salary due to injury because of the precedent it would set.

The Red Sox could try to work out a deal that allows Pedroia to be paid his full salary while working as a consultant for the team or perhaps by allowing him to join the coaching staff. It would certainly fit ownership’s recent penny-pinching ways to fill a coaching vacancy with a salary they were going to have to pay anyway.

Before you ask, Pedroia’s salary will still count against the Red Sox for luxury tax purposes no matter which route he takes. MLB isn’t going to stand by while a team blatantly attempts to circumvent the luxury tax rules. We’re seeing a similar scenario play out with David Wright. He’s barely seen the field since 2016 and officially retired after the 2018 season but will still count against the New York Mets’ payroll for tax purposes this year.

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Pedroia’s future as a player is in serious doubt but his standing with the organization never will be. He has been the heart and soul of this team for over a decade. Whether he hangs up his cleats or decides to continue his fight to make another comeback, Pedroia will always be a part of the Red Sox.

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