Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia’s future may have already been decided for him

PORTLAND, ME - MAY 04: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox prepares for the game between the Portland Sea Dogs and the Binghamton Rumble Ponies while on a rehab assignment at Hadlock Field on May 4, 2019 in Portland, Maine. (Photo by Zachary Roy/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - MAY 04: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox prepares for the game between the Portland Sea Dogs and the Binghamton Rumble Ponies while on a rehab assignment at Hadlock Field on May 4, 2019 in Portland, Maine. (Photo by Zachary Roy/Getty Images) /

Red Sox legend Dustin Pedroia has a big decision to make this winter

There’s a lot on the table for the Red Sox this offseason and I’m sure there won’t be many off days for Chaim Bloom and his team. Between players returning from injury, free agents coming and going, and a global pandemic, it’s going to be a long winter. There’s one more thing on the docket that Boston needs to address, and that’s the future of Dustin Pedroia.

The longtime Red Sox second baseman has been on the shelf for the better part of the last three seasons. He’s played in just nine games since a knee injury in 2017 thanks to a dirty slide by Manny Machado. Since then it’s been a myriad of treatments, rehab assignments, attempted returns, and shutdowns. Pedroia didn’t even make an attempt at coming to spring training after another setback early in the year.

So, what does the future hold of Dustin and the Red Sox? As we’ve seen over the last few seasons the decision on his future will solely be in his hands. Both Bloom and his predecessor Dave Dombrowski made it clear that what Pedey does next is up to him. If you ask the fanbase, at this point it may be an even 50-50 split as far as him returning and retiring.

Being someone who never even came close to his level of play, I can’t tell him what to do. But it’s painful to see him put in his everything just run into another disappointment. I’m a massive fan of Dustin and want nothing but the best for a guy that gave everything in his mind, body, and soul to this team. Sadly, that playing style is why he’s in the situation he’s currently in. Obviously, we couldn’t have predicted his knee getting crushed by the slide, but it felt like it was a matter of time considering his style.

Now, we’re entering the final year of Pedey’s current deal as he’s set to become a free agent with the 2022 class. He’s set to earn $12M this season and may not see the playing field once. With just a single year left on the contract, I doubt we’ll see him walk away, especially with his playing future severely in doubt. Gotta get that last payday, I’m sure as hell know I would and I’m sure many of you would as well.

Over the last few season though we’ve had to have the conversation about him making a possible comeback, however, this winter carries a new version of the discussion. Will he even get a chance to play again for the Red Sox?

This past season saw 60 games of disappointment but it did bring us the chance to see some of the best prospects rise to the occasion. As far as second base is concerned, a once-vacant position now feels incredibly cramped. Christian Arroyo was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Indians and didn’t waste a damn minute in staking his claim for 2021. Then there’s Jonathan Arauz, who completely skipped Triple-A and looked like he belonged in the Majors from day one.

Arroyo started 13 games at second this year and finished with a perfect 1.00 Fld% through 108.2 innings. As far as his work at the plate, he was a monster in the batter’s box and proved to be a strong addition to the squad. He finished 2020 with a .240/.296/.440/.736 line with 3 homers, 8 RBI with just 11 strikeouts in 54 plate appearances. As I said above, he got acclimated to Boston incredibly fast and was an exciting addition to watch down the stretch.

For Arauz, 2020 was a campaign that backed up the hype surrounding his name and proved that he can clang and bang at a Major League level. He’s more of a well-rounded infielder as he spent time at second, short, and third base over 2020. Jonathan had similar numbers to Arroyo as he owned a .250/.325/.319/.644 slash with 1 homer and 9 RBI through his 80 plate appearances. As far as his defense goes, he was perfect at shortstop and third while having a .965 Fld% at second.

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Splitting time at second with Arroyo may be the best option for now as the Red Sox try and figure out the right combination of the duo. It’s hard to imagine Rafael Devers or Xander Bogaerts going anywhere anytime soon, and Bobby Dalbec locked down first base in a hurry. Michael Chavis used to be in the conversation for second but it appears that he’s being shifted to the outfield going forward. When a year ago Boston couldn’t find a second baseman they now have two promising talents that have more than taken over.

This brings me back to the Pedroia discussion. It’s clear that the decision on his future will fully be up to him, as it should be, but there may not be much of a decision to make. He’s made it clear over the last few years that as much as he’d love to play again, his ultimate goal is to be able to play with his kids and have a solid quality of life. At one time he was the only choice for the Red Sox, but those days seem to be long gone at this point.

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At the end of the day, I want nothing but the best for Dustin Pedroia. What he’s done for this team during his tenure will be impossible to match. From his debut in 2007 to the knee injury that may have ended his career 10 years later, he was the heart of the Red Sox. Now that there is a great crop of talent that he can hand the keys to the castle over to, it may be the time to ride off into the sunset.