Dustin Pedroia played in just nine games through 2018 and 2019. He’s collected just three hits with three walks over 31 plate appearances over those same two seasons. But according to Red Sox new Chief Baseball Officer, Chaim Bloom, Pedroia’s story with the Red Sox may not be over. Last Monday, Bloom made it known that Pedroia’s intent is to play, not to retire.
However, WEEI’s Rob Bradford spoke with the 36-year-old veteran following those comments made by the front office executive, and he somewhat refuted the idea that his goal first and foremost is to return to the playing field. Something that has been brought up countless times over these last few grueling years for Pedroia was his quality of life off of the field.
One central reason the Red Sox fanbase fell in love with the infielder was due to the grit and passion he clearly emanated on every single play. If the ball was close and if he could increase his chances at making the play by just 1%, he’d put it all out there, dive, and attempt to make the play with the thought of his own health coming in a distant second. That’s the way that Pedroia has always played the game. Passion and guts are the two words that immediately come to mind.
But due to his style of play, his health deteriorated, putting him in the position that he’s in today. And now, Pedroia himself is focused on that quality of life off the field too, according to Pedroia’s comments to Bradford.
He’s now gone through three separate knee surgeries, all with the focus on getting back onto the field with his teammates. His latest procedure came this past August, a joint preservation surgery.
Clearly, his desire to get back out there with his teammates on a regular basis hasn’t been the case thus far and it appears that the optimism that was previously there last year has faded. Through February ahead of what would be an underwhelming 2019 season, the thought was there that Pedroia could potentially finish out the year. Even former President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, had the hope that he was a 125-game player.
He was 119 games short of that mark, again, only finishing the season with six games under his belt. Something else of note that came from his brief stint last season related to some of his career numbers. In going 2 for 21 through those few games, Pedroia’s career average dropped just below that illustrious .300 mark to .299. Something that, if he were to make a return, I’m sure would be at the forefront of his mind to bring back up, even if he refutes that notion.
He told Bradford, “Once it gets back to 90% of my right leg, we’ll see.”
Remaining with the “we’ll see” approach leaves the Red Sox in limbo in their understanding of whether or not they need to fill the hole at second base–which was adequately done by rookie Michael Chavis in 2019–and it also leaves them pondering if they’ll need to cut costs elsewhere while they remain on this quest to get themselves under the $208 million luxury tax threshold.
However, even with Pedroia being a major unknown for the 2020 season, he’s earned the right to decide his fate himself, even if it does hurt the team in their offseason process.
Which, frankly, a lot of fans don’t want to see the Red Sox front office slashing payroll in the way that they’ve spoken about. The notion of dealing away either Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez–who decided to opt-in to the 2020 portion of his deal with Boston at $23.75 million–makes stomachs turn in Boston. Especially when the team continues to gouge its fans with ever-increasing ticket and beer prices that could make a kid in their 20s go broke after purchasing two Bud Lights.
Pedroia’s set to make $13 million this season as a base salary with $13.75 million hitting the luxury tax. A number that I’m sure makes Chaim Bloom squirm in his new desk chair. But what are they going to do? Trade him?
First of all, that’s a foolish thought due to the fact that; A) Who would make a deal for a broken-down, old second baseman? And B) Even if he were healthy, he’s placed himself in that ora of untouchables in Boston. The idea of having him start and finish his career with the Red Sox organization is an image that I’m sure ownership relishes.
If Pedroia does decide to retire ahead of the season, that’ll negate his financial implications for the Red Sox, making Bloom’s job slightly more manageable. But again, if he doesn’t, he’s earned that right.
As mentioned before, the reason that Pedroia’s in the position that he’s in today is due to the amount of passion that he put into every play which for years, fans ate up. They loved it. Fans who have watched him play for a majority of his career can close their eyes and vividly imagine this sequence because it happened on a regular basis.
A bouncing ball to his left, Pedroia hustles over, lays out with his legs kicking up as he hits the ground, he gloves it, pops up, plants his feet and fires to first with all upper-body strength.
Frequent plays like those are what made Pedroia such an intricate piece to two championship teams along with other great ones that either failed in the playoffs or had collapses that were unthinkable. Sorry to rehash the 2011 season but hey, fried chicken’s pretty good.
There are some who have a sour taste in their mouths with the thought of Pedroia coming back, and a lot of that stems from his attitude that has manifested itself through the media. There have absolutely been some down moments that I’m sure have pushed some into feeling this way. There’s the infamous, “Can I go home now?” remark made after he didn’t feel like speaking with the media anymore following a loss to the Orioles where the feeling of retaliation was palpable as Baltimore plunked Mookie Betts. Of course, that retaliation stems from several incidents before with the villain who has become all but irrelevant now that he signed with the San Diego Padres, Manny Machado. One of those incidents being his slide into second base, jarring Pedroia’s knee which could quite possibly have kicked off this string of surgeries and inadequate attempted seasons.
Pedroia has spent the entirety of his career with the Boston Red Sox organization. And even with a negative attitude put on display, the notion that he could be a cancer in the clubhouse seems overstated. Look at David Price? Price has continuously battled with the media during the entirety of his four years in Boston. But it’s been abundantly clear how much the team loves him inside of the clubhouse, and that’s been the case during his time with other organizations too. All we have is Pedroia’s interactions with the media to create that theory.
Pedroia’s given it his all during his 14 years. He’s a former Rookie of the Year putting up a .317 BA in 2007, also a World Series year. He’s a former MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner and a four-time All-Star. And aside from his last two injury-plagued seasons, Pedroia’s been nothing but effective over every single season that he’s suited up for the Red Sox–we won’t count his first shot at the bigs in 2006 though, either.
He has been everything this team could have asked for during his entire career. And while it may hurt the team–maybe not on the field but in regards to their new long term view of things–Dustin Pedroia’s earned the right to decide when his time is up in the Majors. With two years left on his deal, we’ll have to wait and see when he decides to hang it up.