Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:34 AM EDT

    Jason Castro Getty Images

    In a night of several walkoffs — including a walkoff walk — Jason Castro had the biggest, helping Houston complete the sweep of the Angels.

  2. So, the Rockies are headhunters now?

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:22 AM EDT

    wong

    It’s fortunate this one didn’t get ugly.

  3. Giants to acquire Mike Leake from Reds

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:24 AM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPWVkMWIyYmQzZjIyZDc1ZDBlM2Q5ZGUwM2I0NGRhODNj Getty Images

    Leake has a 3.56 ERA and 90/34 K/BB ratio in 136 2/3 innings over 21 starts this season.

  4. Video: Jason Castro powers Astros past Angels with walk-off three-run homer

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:00 AM EDT

    HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 03:  Jason Castro #15 of the Houston Astros swings at a pitch in the second inning during their game against the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park on June 3, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Astros completed a three-game sweep of the Angels and now hold a two-game lead in the American League West.

  5. Cubs, Blue Jays, and Dodgers among teams interested in Yovani Gallardo

    Jul 30, 2015, 11:29 PM EDT

    Yovani Gallardo Getty Images

    Gallardo isn’t going into the trade deadline on a high note, as he has allowed five runs in three straight starts.

  6. Report: The Diamondbacks have made an offer for Aroldis Chapman

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT

    Aroldis Chapman AP

    The Diamondbacks are trying to make a play for All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman.

  7. Video: Ryan Rua hits inside-the-park home run against Yankees

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:20 PM EDT

    ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 30:  Ryan Rua #16 of the Texas Rangers celebrates his in the park homerun against the New York Yankees in the fourth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 30, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

    It was made possible due to a misplay by Jacoby Ellsbury in center field.

  8. Orioles talking to Brewers about Gerardo Parra

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT

    against the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Field on July 23, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images

    The Brewers traded center fielder Carlos Gomez to the Astros earlier tonight along with right-hander Mike Fiers and they could be close to another deal.

  9. Report: Reds willing to trade Jay Bruce to Mets for Zack Wheeler

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:08 PM EDT

    CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds takes an at bat during the game against the Cleveland Indians at Great American Ball Park on July 18, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) Getty Images

    As the Mets try to pick up the pieces after their deal for Carlos Gomez fell apart, they reportedly have an interesting proposal to consider from the Reds.

  10. The Dodgers have already designated Michael Morse for assignment

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:40 PM EDT

    Michael Morse Marlins Getty Images

    Morse is owed $8 million next season, but the Dodgers covered it in order to complete Thursday’s 13-player trade with the Marlins and Braves.

  11. Astros acquire Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers from Brewers

    Jul 30, 2015, 7:33 PM EDT

    gomez Getty Images

    Carlos Gomez was nearly dealt to the Mets last night before the deal fell apart, but it didn’t take long for the Brewers to find a new suitor.

  12. Report: White Sox interested in Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton

    Jul 30, 2015, 7:10 PM EDT

    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 21: Chicago White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn (front) and Robin Ventura #23 of the Chicago White Sox watch batting practice before the game between the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians on April 21, 2015 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

    It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about the White Sox as sellers, but now they are trying to buy a big bat.

  13. Mike Trout back in Angels’ lineup Thursday

    Jul 30, 2015, 6:32 PM EDT

    ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 26:  Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim rounds third base after hitting a home run in the first inning during a game against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 26, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Angels slugger Mike Trout is back in tonight’s lineup against the Astros after missing two games with left wrist inflammation.

  14. Pirates bolster bullpen, pick up Joakim Soria from Tigers

    Jul 30, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPWUxMWY3Njc0ZTU3N2M3NzRjMDUyODFiNWJhYWE1Mjg3 Getty Images

    After dealing ace David Price to the Blue Jays earlier today, the Tigers have traded closer Joakim Soria to the Pirates.

  15. Marlins president Mike Hill hopes Marlins fans are “educated enough” to see the team’s plan

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    marlins logo

    Of course, experience is education too, and based on that I’m quite sure that even the most intelligent Marlins fan would be justified in being confused and thinking the organization has no clue whatsoever.

  16. Yankees acquire Dustin Ackley from Mariners

    Jul 30, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    Dustin Ackley Getty Images

    No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft behind Stephen Strasburg.

  17. The Mets have had an extremely Metsy 24 hours

    Jul 30, 2015, 4:07 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 3.57.11 PM

    Defeat from the jaws of victory and then they got all wet.

  18. Daniel Nava designated for assignment by the Red Sox

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT

    ALCS - Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox - Game One Getty Images

    Nava hit .303 in 134 games for the Red Sox in 2013, playing a key role in the team’s World Series title.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. C. Hamels (5529)
  2. C. Gomez (4351)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (4204)
  4. M. Trout (3821)
  5. J. Cueto (3766)
  1. A. Rodriguez (3527)
  2. C. Gonzalez (3523)
  3. D. Price (3308)
  4. T. Clippard (3076)
  5. J. Reyes (2765)