Red Sox veteran infielder Dustin Pedroia has been a centerpiece in Boston’s clubhouse for the better part of 14 seasons. He is a homegrown product of the organization. Drafted out of Arizona State as a shortstop in 2004, and by 2007 he had already won a World Series and Rookie of the Year honors. In 2013 battling a torn UCL, Pedroia now a veteran in the organization helped lead Boston to another World Series.
However, in recent history, Pedroia has been riddled with injuries. With the exception of a remarkable 2016 season, he went from Boston’s daily second-baseman to playing occasionally. He has played in 114 games in the last three years and only appeared in nine games over the last two seasons. Mind you he did sign the 8-year extension worth $110 million in 2013.
First and foremost, Pedroia doesn’t owe anybody anything, but the second base position has been a revolving door in Boston over the past few seasons. Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, and recently Michael Chavis have all seen time there. With second-base being the “easiest” position on the field are those names listed capable? Yes. Are they the answer? No. Also, it is inevitable Brock Holt will use his utility card to test this upcoming free-agency.
So what is the answer here? Do the Red Sox pray to the baseball gods that Pedroia is 100 percent on Opening Day? Do they continue to wait because he is a veteran? Not only has he not been playing consistently, but he is now 36 and middle infielders are not as explosive and sharp defensively as they get older. In fact, everyone loses their touch when they age, it is a natural human process.
Chavis as a 23-year-old rookie did show flashes that he can hit at the big league level, but defensively he showed that he is more of a corner infielder. Unless his glove IQ sharpens and his range improves, he isn’t the answer up the middle.
Now granted Mookie Betts is an All-Star outfielder holding four Gold Glove awards. However, if we remember correctly, Betts came up through the Red Sox organization also as an infielder, second base to be precise. It is something he is not foreign to. Albeit he must get the contact first, and taking him out of right field would then mean the Red Sox outfield would have to be re-considered positionally, but it is something Boston should look into. Yes, the second-base position is “easy,” but if you don’t have feel for the position when it comes to the double-play turn and knowing your way up the middle defensively and positioning stand-point, and with footwork around the bag, it is not a walk in the park.
Unless either the Red Sox decide to go out and get another infielder, or if Pedroia and the organization are on the same page and know when he will be ready in 2020, Boston should consider this option. Pedroia could, even though unlikely may decide to retire and take his contract. There have even been rumblings of him becoming an infield instructor within the organization when his days are done. However, for the time being, the Red Sox, Pedroia, and all parties involved must have a solution by the end of spring training.
It is only November, but as they say, time is of the essence.