Red Sox: What Dustin Pedroia’s early retirement means for 2021 roster
The fallout from Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s retirement
Dustin Pedroia fought as hard as he could for as long as he could. He spent the better part of the last three years rehabilitating a devastating knee injury but when each comeback attempt stalled in frustrating fashion, it was ultimately time for Pedroia to admit that his playing days are over. The Boston Red Sox have been preparing for this moment but now that Pedroia is ready to officially announce his retirement, we need to consider how this affects the upcoming season.
On the field, the impact is minimal. Three knee surgeries limited Pedroia to only nine games over the last three years and he missed the entire 2020 season. The team adjusted to his absence long ago and they weren’t expecting him to contribute again.
Free-agent signing Kike Hernandez has the versatility to handle almost any position but he’s expected to be the primary second baseman based on the team’s need at the position. Boston has a few other infielders capable of spending time at second base even if it isn’t their natural position, including Michael Chavis, Christian Arroyo and Jonathan Arauz.
Unfortunately, Pedroia’s early retirement isn’t going to carve out payroll space for additional reinforcements. Despite that he’ll be officially retired, Pedroia will still be paid for the final season of the eight-year, $110 million extension that he signed after the 2013 season. His $13.3 million average annual value on that deal will still count toward the Competitive Balance Tax threshold for 2021.
The Red Sox have less than $10 million in wiggle room beneath the tax line. Chaim Bloom might have another low-cost move or two up his sleeve but the Pedroia news isn’t going to give him any more financial flexibility to work with.
What Pedroia’s retirement does do is open a spot on the 40-man roster. Boston still needs to clear room before they can officially sign Hernandez, Martin Perez and Garrett Richards.
The Red Sox were already forced to waste an asset when they dealt prospect C.J. Chatham to the Philadelphia Phillies for a player to be named later or cash, a move made purely for the purpose of opening a roster spot. Boston can find other expendable players on their 40-man roster but those options are running low. With Pedroia no longer counted on the roster, the Red Sox are saved from making one of those tough cuts.
Pedroia addressed the media on Monday in a press conference that aired on NESN and was lived streamed on their website, as well as the Red Sox social media accounts.
He mentioned that now that his playing days are behind him, his focus is on his family and watching his children grow up. He doesn’t appear to be open to jumping into a coaching role anytime soon but he has long been considered a good fit for that type of position and the Red Sox would welcome him back to the organization in any capacity that suits him.
Pedroia’s retirement is a significant moment for the franchise based on what he has meant to the organization. The four-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove award winner, three-time World Series champion, and former Rookie of the Year and MVP accomplished more than enough to cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats for this franchise.
His presence will certainly be missed, perhaps more so than ever now that we know he doesn’t have another comeback attempt in him, but his absence doesn’t change much about the outlook for the 2021 season.