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. Phillies minor leaguer suspended 50 games for a drug of abuse

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:45 PM EDT

    phillies logo Getty Images

    A Phillies pitching prospect violated the minor league drug policy and was suspended 50 games, beginning at the start of the 2015 season.

  2. Video: Russell Martin hits go-ahead three-run homer to send Pirates to a win

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    Russell Martin Russell Martin

    Russell Martin hit a timely three-run home run to send the Pirates to a late win over the Brewers on Friday night, extending their lead for the second NL Wild Card slot.

  3. David Ortiz broke a Ted Williams record with his 100th RBI

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT

    Division Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Getty Images

    David Ortiz found yet another reason to hear his name uttered in the same breath as Ted Williams.

  4. Jacoby Ellsbury exits Friday’s game with a strained right hamstring

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    Jacoby Ellsbury, Dioner Navarro Jacoby Ellsbury, Dioner Navarro

    Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a strained right hamstring in the fourth inning on Friday night against the Blue Jays. He’ll undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.

  5. Mike Scioscia is considering using a three-man rotation in the ALDS

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

    mike-scioscia-angels Getty Images

    The Angels’ rotation is thin beyond Matt Shoemaker, Jered Weaver, and C.J. Wilson, so manager Mike Scioscia may do the obvious thing and utilize a three-man rotation in the ALDS.

  6. Juan Lagares may not return to finish out the regular season

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:35 PM EDT

    New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

    There isn’t much time left in the regular season, which may mean Mets fans won’t see Juan Lagares patrol the outfield until spring training in 2015.

  7. Twins shut down closer Glen Perkins with nerve irritation

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins Getty Images

    Perkins, who had a 2.44 ERA as recently as August 25, finishes the season with a 3.65 ERA and 66/11 K/BB ratio in 62 innings while saving 34 games.

  8. Shawn Kelley took offense to Jose Bautista’s antics after hitting game-tying homer last night

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT

    Jose Bautista Jose Bautista

    Jose Bautista offended Yankees reliever Shawn Kelley with his celebratory behavior after hitting a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning of last night’s game.

  9. Hyun-Jin Ryu hopes to resume throwing over the weekend

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Hyun-Jin Ryu Hyun-Jin Ryu

    Hyun-Jin Ryu didn’t throw as expected on Friday, but hopes to do so before the weekend is over. He’s hoping to return to the Dodgers in time for the playoffs.

  10. Clayton Kershaw wins his 20th game of the season

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Clayton Kershaw AP

    Los Angeles is 22-4 with Kershaw on the mound this season.

  11. Alex Avila has felt “disoriented” when swinging a bat lately

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    alex avila getty Getty Images

    Alex Avila felt disoriented while swinging a bat over the last two days, so he remains out of the Tigers’ lineup and it’s even worth questioning if he’ll be ready for the post-season — assuming the Tigers get there.

  12. Nationals expected to activate Ryan Zimmerman this weekend

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    Ryan Zimmerman AP AP

    Ryan Zimmerman has been out since mid-July with a hamstring injury.

  13. If you love chaos, root for Team Entropy

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:31 PM EDT

    Chaos Theory

    Basically, we want everyone in the NL to finish with 88 wins.

  14. Paul Konerko returns to play through a broken hand

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Paul Konerko Getty Images

    Konerko has hit just .220 with five homers and a .616 OPS in 74 games.

  15. Derek Jeter will be presented with a bronze cap tonight

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Bronze cap

    What do you get the man who has everything? A bronzed version of the stuff he already has!

  16. Carlos Ruiz reveals he’s played the entire season with a shoulder injury

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Carlos Ruiz AP AP

    He has two years remaining on a three-year, $26 million contract.

  17. UPDATE: It’s now 6-3 Dodgers, as Clayton Kershaw masterfully pitches to the score

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw

    Because if Clayton Kershaw needs anything, he needs a bunch of run support.

  18. How will the Orioles use Kevin Gausman in the playoffs?

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

    Kevin Gauzman has been fantastic for the Orioles, posting a 3.57 ERA with just five homers allowed in 18 starts as a 23-year-old rookie.

  19. Great moments in rookie hazing: making Joc Pederson get the Dodgers coffee

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    joc pederson getty Getty Images

    If you have to haze, at least get some coffee out of the deal.

Featured video

Patience finally paying off for Royals fans
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3106)
  2. G. Stanton (2277)
  3. N. Arenado (2143)
  4. J. Hamilton (2132)
  5. C. Kershaw (2126)
  1. A. Rizzo (2121)
  2. D. Ortiz (2074)
  3. M. Trout (2017)
  4. A. Pujols (1812)
  5. H. Ryu (1753)