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Locking up Dustin Pedroia is more about sentiment than sense

Jul 20, 2013, 4:35 PM EDT

Dustin Pedroia AP

There’s something to be said for rewarding a star player who has been underpaid most of his career. Dustin Pedroia is one of the two faces of the Red Sox, he’s a legitimate All-Star candidate every year and it’s possible he’ll go into the Hall of Fame someday. If he were a free agent this winter, a long-term, $20 million-per-year extension would make plenty of sense for the Red Sox. He’s worthy of that kind of money.

But, of course, Pedroia isn’t a free agent this winter. The Red Sox have him signed at the bargain rate of $10 million next year, with an $11 million club option for 2015. Those salaries can increase a bit if Pedroia finishes in the top three in the AL MVP balloting this year, but he’s a steal either way.

So, why sign Pedroia now? The plus for the Red Sox would seem to be to beat the big Robinson Cano deal that’s coming this winter. Cano is likely to get one of the biggest free agent contracts ever; $150 million for six years would be the low end for him. Something like $190 million for seven years might be more realistic. Pedroia might not want to settle for $20 million per year once Cano is making $25 million-$27 million.

But that’s basically the only reason to do it now. Pedroia is nine months younger than Cano, but he won’t be a free agent until he’s 32. Of Pedroia’s 10 most similar players through age 28, according to Baseball Reference, only one remained a star after age 32. That’s Charlie Gehringer, one of two Hall of Famers in his top 10. The other HOFer, Tony Lazzeri, had his last year as a regular at 33. Jose Vidro, Pedroia’s most similar player, had a lousy year at 33 and then vanished. Ray Durham and Michael Young, Nos. 3 and 4 on the list, lasted as regulars, but not as very good ones.

Probably in part because of the takeout slides and all of the diving around, second basemen tend to have shelf lives. Pedroia has been durable, missing a big chunk of a season just once in his career to date, but he does get banged up. It’s probably going to get worse in his 30s, given how hard he plays the game. If his body starts breaking down, he’ll turn worthless in a hurry.

There’s also one more big reason for the Red Sox not to do a deal: any contract extension immediately gets factored in for luxury tax purposes. With an average annual value under $7 million, Pedroia’s modest deal has been a big help to a franchise that’s been trying to edge up against, but not exceed, the tax threshold. Any new contract will result in a big jump in that figure next year. If you remember, it was luxury tax purposes that caused the Red Sox to delay wrapping up Adrian Gonzalez‘s big deal two years ago; they needed his cheap luxury-tax figure to carry over for one more year before they gave him his $22 million-per-year contract.

Pedroia is a wonderful player, and it’d be great to see him keep this up for another seven or eight years. Banking on it, though, would be a mistake. Ideally, the Red Sox could give Pedroia something like a two-year extension through 2017, with nice boosts to his 2014-15 salaries as part of the bargain. Since that probably isn’t happening, they should just let things play out for the next two years.

  1. bigharold - Jul 20, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    “So, why sign Pedroia now?”

    Because the only negative thing that can be said about Pedroia is all that diving around and playing full tilt 100% of the time MAY start slowing him down.

    Even as a Yankee fan, I’ve no problem recognizing how import Pedroia is to the RS. I’ve absolutely no sentiment there. I even think if the RS played hardball with him he’d likely resign with the RS anyway. But this guy deserves it. All those intangibles that Capt Sucker Punch Varitek used be given credit for, .. Pedroia actually has.

    I say repeatedly that what happens on the field and to an extent in the clubhouse is baseball, everything else is business. Well i t’s good business to have quality players with leadership and that’s Pedroia.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jul 20, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      Varitek certainly punched one sucker I remembered.

      • fanofevilempire - Jul 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM

        oh please, stop with the “punched” description, he mushed his glove and never removed
        his mask, sucker punch is more like it.

    • aceshigh11 - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      Well-said.

      Pedroia should have a “C” on his uniform…he already does for all intents and purposes.

      • okwhitefalcon - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:30 PM

        No baseball player should have a “C” on their uniform.

    • aarondommin - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      You can talk “recognizing how important a player is” all you want but why overpay a player for 4 years just because he was slightly underpaid for a few years. Im YET to see a player give back money at the end of their deals when they are worth 1/10 the salary they are receiving (Arod, Pujols already, Ryan Howard, etc) so why should management bend over backwards for athletes just because they are the small eception to the rule. And Im even a Sun Devil ALUM!

      • bigharold - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:49 PM

        “..why overpay a player for 4 years just because he was slightly underpaid for a few years.”

        It’s only over paying him assuming that he’s production dramatically falls off and one ignores Perdroia’s leadership. Not just to his teammates buy the favs as well. At the end of the day it is a business and winning is the last word but the Nation want it’s fans too.

        And, from a strictly business stand point the RS can afford to over pay by a bit, .. it’s good PR.

      • blueballzny - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:27 PM

        Since when is giving a player an extra 10 + million a year for no reason good p.r.? I wish I was working for you bigharold. Baseball is a business. Employers just don’t do things like that. Like the article says, there is a luxury tax that the Redsox are concerned about.

        Let’s say next off season they want player X. Giving player X 6 million a year would barely keep them under the luxury tax. But player X wants 9 mil a year. Now because they gave Pexroia an extra 10 mil a year for no reason, they won’t sign player X.

      • bigharold - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:39 PM

        “Since when is giving a player an extra 10 + million a year for no reason good p.r.?”

        That isn’t what I said. And, what I did say was it was more than merely raw production. Baseball teams need their stars and Pedroia is one of their biggest. And teams need leaders and Pedroia is that in spades.

        Don’t forget that the business part of the baseball is giving the fans a reason to root. And, if you can’t root for a player like Pedroia than you likely don’t really understand baseball.

        Perhaps it’s because, as a Yankee fan, I’ve been on the business end of Pedrdoia’s heroics too often but honestly I’m AMAZED that I Yankee fan needs to make a case as to why it’s best to lock up Pedroia.

      • blueballzny - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        Red Sox fans need a reason to root for their team??? The Yankees have half of a minor league team thisyear and the stadium is bringing in just as many fans as in years past. I ddon’t think this move gives fans any more of a reason to cheer for the Sox.

        See the argument is not about locking up Pedroia. I think any real baseball fan understands how important he is to his team. But you don’t give guys money for no reason. You wanna reward him for all goes done? Fine, when this deal is up give him an extra few mil a year than what he could realistically get on the open market. But when your up against the luxury tax, now is not the time.

        You don’t think Jackie Bradley sees this and is thinking that when he blows up he’s gonna be asking for more money too?

      • bigharold - Jul 20, 2013 at 7:08 PM

        “The Yankees have half of a minor league team thisyear and the stadium is bringing in just as many fans as in years past…”

        No, that is factually inaccurate. Yankees attendance, like all of MLB, is down. There are a number of factors to that but the Yankee roster, certainly isn’t helping that.

        “But you don’t give guys money for no reason.”

        No, yo pay them for what they can do on the field, and in Pedroia’s case, for the leadership they provide. But, you also pay him for bring fans into the park, .. and the does that too. Locking up Pedoria would send a statement to the Nation. And, he has earned it!

    • fanofevilempire - Jul 20, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      Pedroia is a HOF’er ?

  2. unclemosesgreen - Jul 20, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    They can’t afford to let him go – he’s our pint-sized dirt-dog Jeter. If he gets to free agency and leaves there won’t be a safe place in Boston for ownership.

  3. jonrox - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    I guess if Brandon Phillips is worth 60 million for ages 32-36, Pedroia is probably worth somewhere close to 90 over that stretch (based on WAR, Pedroia is pretty close to 50% more annually valuable than Phillips). When also considering ages that the WARs occurred in, Pedroia has a pretty good argument that he’s worth at least 50% more annually than Phillips and is probably closer to 75% more valuable.

    Then again, a lot of people (who are not named Brandon Phillips) seemed to think the Phillips contact was an overpay.

    • Kevin Gillman - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      One thing is for sure and that’s Pedroia won’t bitch and moan about “ONLY” getting $75 M like another player has recently done.

  4. 13arod - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    jonrox phillps is better then pedroia

    • jonrox - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:42 PM

      I’m gonna go ahead and guess this is lazy trolling.

      Or maybe you are Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer

      • paperlions - Jul 21, 2013 at 11:49 AM

        Nah, it isn’t lazy trolling, he just doesn’t really know much about baseball

  5. paperlions - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Yeah, extensions signed 2 years before a contract expires are always a good idea.

    — Ruben Amaro

    Two years is a LONG time. There is about a 0% chance that a new contract will cost them more in 2 years than it will now. Pedroia has been fantastically consistent throughout his career. There is almost no chance he’ll be better over the next 2 years than he already has been…and there is a good chance he’ll be showing signs of decline by then…and even though everyone knows the decline is coming, until it does, it will be ignored in contract negotiations.

    Like the impending Cano contract, any Pedroia extension is bound to be viewed in the same light as all other long contracts signed after a player is 30 yrs old. Has there been a 5+ year deal signed by a player that was 30 or older that didn’t look horrible after a couple of years?

    • bigharold - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      With Pedroia it’s more than just raw production. He is not only the defacto leader of the RS he’s one of the better 2B in the game. Even the Nation needs their hero’s, there is something to be said for public relations and Pedroia has absolutely earned it.

      Locking up Pedroira for essentially the rest of his career is a no brainier.

      • paperlions - Jul 20, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        The point is there is no reason to do such a deal NOW.

        Pedroia isn’t going anywhere. He is still signed for 2 more years.

        Deals in which the teams assume all of the risks always end badly for the team. Giving max dollars and max years multiple years before a guy is going to be a FA is just a horrible business model.

        They could wait 2 more years and still sign Pedroia to an extension and there is no chance it would cost them more than it will now, a good chance it would cost less, and the team will have a better idea what they are buying.

      • bigharold - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:05 PM

        While it is likely that the RS can and will sign Pedrroia when the time comes the risk of losing him is too great.

        By what margin might the RS have to over pay., .. 10-20 mil for the length of his contract? They can afford it, .. the positive statement to the fans is significant, .. AND he has earned it.

      • blueballzny - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:32 PM

        Paperlions….. you’re 100% correct. But most fans don’t look at a baseball team as a business. Its not their money. This extension was completely ridiculous, but you won’t win the argument with these people. They all think giving a guy an extra 10 mil a year for absolutely no reason at all is “good p.r.” lol

      • blueballzny - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:37 PM

        Bigharold….It doesn’t matter if the Sox can afford it or if he earned it. You’re giving him 10 mil a year for no reason whatsoever. That’s just a stupid business move. There are reasons teams don’t do that. What’s gonna happen when the next guy is being severely underpaid? I’ll tell you, they’ll have their hands out asking for more, and they’ll be referencing Dustin Pedroia.

      • bigharold - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:52 PM

        Blue, .. read what I actually wrote. I never said 10 mil more a year.

        And, it’s about more than raw production. If you don’t appreciate or discount the leadership and continuity that Pedroia brings to the RS, not to mention the fans interest, than you are ignoring the soft parts of the game as well as the entrepreneurial aspects of MLB.

    • scotttheskeptic - Jul 20, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      paper,

      Let them believe this is a good idea. We can revisit the topic in a few years when an untradeable contract becomes the overriding factor in how the team can or cannot retool, a la your opening comment.

      Great Amaro reference, by the way.

      • paperlions - Jul 20, 2013 at 8:39 PM

        Yeah, I know. I have no idea how this is not obviously a bad idea to people.

        I noticed that people did not list a single long term contract signed a player in his 30s that turned out well….because, there has yet to be one….even when players were FAs when the contract was signed.

        This is a bad idea from an organizational and baseball perspective. There is no player a team can’t lose and keep going without missing a step. The Cardinals lost the best player of his generation and are as strong an organization as they have ever been on the field, in the FO, and from a fan support perspective. Losing Pujols was actually a positive for the organization.

    • bigleagues - Jul 20, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      I mostly agree with what your saying Paperlions, but my only thing is this … none of us know what the Red Sox ownership may or may not have promised to Pedroia back when he signed this current deal. They may have told him that at some point if he is substantially underpaid vs other Secondbaseman and/or MVP caliber players, they would make it up to him in an extension that also gives him a raise on whatever years are remaining.

      Perhaps Pedroia, after watching “The Trade” go down and those salary commitments vanish from the Red Sox books, thought it was about time that he got paid commensurate with what he’s worth and quietly began speaking to the front office about it.

      I doubt that this is all a one way street with the Red Sox initiating this all on their own.

      What I hope to see, and what no one should rule out from happening, is a 2-3 year extension that takes him through 2017-1018, gives Pedroia a raise starting in 2014, and then includes an additional option year or two.

      That way the Sox could avoid enduring 3-4 years of end-of-line Pedroia (a la Robbie Alomar and Carlos Baerga).

  6. riverace19 - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    I fail to see the point of this article. He will get 3000 hits and will be a HOFer. Yah he might decline a bit. The real question to ask when considering extension amounts is… How much revenue does he bring in for the Sox? It’s not all about baseball statistics.

    • paperlions - Jul 20, 2013 at 8:45 PM

      Baseball teams that win make money, not baseball “stars” or popular players. Financially, it is just not true that popular players leads to greater profit…winning games = making money. It really is that simple.

      ….and there is no “he might decline a bit”, every player declines as they age…the question is only when will is start and how quickly will it happen.

      Pedroia will be 32 when an extension kicks in.

      Guess how many players in MLB there are that are 34 or older that have enough ABs to qualify for the batting title? 18

      Of those 18, 12 are above average offensive players and only 7 are above average defensive players. Age does a horrible thing to baseball skills.

  7. riverace19 - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Okay with 1145 currently, 3000 hits probably won’t happen. But Laser Show still has a shot at HOF

  8. blueballzny - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    3,000 hits??? Maybe if he gets 300 a year for the next 5 years he’ll have a shot at it. Stupid Red Sox fan!

  9. melo5812 - Jul 21, 2013 at 3:10 AM

    I signed up to post just to tell most of u how stupid u are lol first all blueball Pedroia is 29 years old pretty sure he ll be playing past 34 so not sure why he needs to do anything over the next 5 years and to the other retard who says what player given a 5 yr contract past 30 was a good idea pretty sure Barry bonds 5 yr deal at 30 years + was a good one whadya think pal what about Andy pettitte’s was a good one too or greg maddux there’s 3 and that was me only thinking about it for 10 seconds

  10. ravenunitas - Jul 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    I’m a Orioles fan and I can honestly say I wish we had this guy on our team. He is the not the most athletic guy but he is a scrappy all out player that I admire.
    That being said…when we play them I call him all kinds of names like the Little Troll that lives under the bridge in Boston. But if we ever had the chance to sign him and I made the decision…It’s a no brainer.

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