The Boston Red Sox are stuck with a significant payroll obligation with Dustin Pedroia. Is this truly a problem?
The numbers on Dustin Pedroia’s contract drift into the next decade with three more years after the 2018 season for an additional $41 MM in compensation for the oft-injured second baseman. Long term obligations can be beneficial or detrimental and that is based on the unknown. Will performance degrade as it did with Andrew McCutchen, or will value continue to be created like CC Sabathia?
Injury is the other magnet for the unknown and Tampa Bay did just that with Matt Moore by signing Moore to an extension buying out arbitration and a few free agent years. Moore’s arm went south with Tommy John Surgery and has since been passed around losing a league leading 15 games for the Giants in 2017.
Players occasionally become a liability via the stupidity route and just go to Madison Bumgarner hurting his pigeonholed shoulder in a dirt bike injury. The Red Sox also have David Price and his Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from reportedly a video game addiction.
With Pedroia, his injuries are all game related as Pedroia is noted for his aggressive dirt dog style. The latest injury is a devastating knee injury that has the potential to end his baseball career. What it does not end is the financial obligation for a team already committed to excessive “dead money” with Rusney Castillo and Pablo Sandoval. This does not vanish and becomes an integral part of the luxury tax trap.
Pedroia is generally being written off by an impatient and frustrated fan base. How soon memories fade at just what a healthy Pedroia means to the offense and defense. Pedroia is a career .300 hitter and an exceptional defensive player. Just look at defense at second? Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt are below average.
In 2006 Pedroia did nothing by hitting a meager .191 in a handful of games. In 2007 Pedroia continued his dismal statistical line and the mob was out. My favorite term was PedroiAAA to pigeonhole the young second baseman. Pedroia won Rookie of the Year that season – overcoming the odds.
Scouts, fans and media have consistently underestimated Pedroia and at age 34 he faces his most significant challenge. Can Pedroia regain his ability to be an elite second baseman? And, yes, he was elite in 2017 before going on the shelf.
I am not part of the Pedroia tar and feathers mob and fully expect a complete recovery. My concern is not his offense, but Pedroia’s defensive capabilities. Can he still adroitly move with equal skill to his right and left? That answer may surface in 2019 rather than 2018. The type of injury and the recovery may actually be a year-long time frame.
The contract an albatross? The contract when signed offered both parties protection. A long-term deal that was most certainly undervalued with some union murmurings. The advantage of such a deal is readily apparent as a career can quickly evaporate via injury.
Despite the contractual obligation, there’s little reason to bet against Pedey. He’s been a huge part of the Boston Red Sox for many years and it would be foolish to bet against the Laser Show.