Dustin Pedroia’s recent IL rehab assignment was cut short yesterday by the Red Sox, as the second baseman has experienced pain in his rehabbing knee yet again. Pedroia has played in a grand total of nine games in the past two seasons, hitting .097 with zero home runs and one RBI. The Twittersphere and Sox Facebook groups are calling for Pedroia to retire, and the pitchforks are getting sharper and the torches are getting hotter considering his recent setback. For the record, I don’t WANT Dustin Pedroia to retire. If he can return to 75% of what he once was you’ll still get an above average second baseman in your lineup. Plus, he’s laid his body on the line for this team for close to 13 years, and I truly believe he has the right to make his way back into the lineup if healthy. Pedroia is signed through 2021, so he will still be on the books for another two and three quarters seasons. Why so quick to run him out of town if he’s signed anyway? You can’t trade him, so you may as well try to get him back on the field.
The problem I have is what are the Red Sox NOT doing because they are waiting for Pedroia to return? Michael Chavis has been decent at second, especially with his bat, but he’s not a natural second baseman. Next season, look for Chavis to man third while Raffy Devers moves to first. Bobby Dalbec, another talented third baseman is tearing up the International League right now, so the Red Sox may have the luxury of keeping Chavis at second for the foreseeable future. But Chavis has been manning second because injuries to Pedey, Brock Holt, and Eduardo Nunez have necessified it to be. Have the Red Sox missed out on improving their team because they’ve been waiting on Pedroia’s comeback for two seasons?
Last year, after it was clear Pedroia would not return to the diamond, the Sox traded for Ian Kinsler, who was never going to be a part of their long term plans (he hit .242 with the Sox and despite that HORRENDOUS error in game three of the World Series, played pretty stellar defense). It’s easy in hindsight to say, “well...everything worked out last year for them” but at the time, I wanted the Sox to dive into a more permanent solution for Pedroia.
Last June, I wanted the Sox to explore trading for then Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu has a career .299 average (same as Pedey), has won three Gold Gloves, appeared in two All-Star games, and is currently clubbing .333 with 21 RBI for our rivals down in the Big Apple. The Red Sox would have had to give up more for DJ than for Kins, but they also could have solidified the position for essentially two seasons. Additionally, what moves will the Red Sox be limited to THIS season because the specter of Dustin Pedroia MAY be making his way back between the chalk lines? If Steve Pearce continues to struggle, can we move Chavis over to first, or do we need to keep him at second? Is there a potential deal for a younger second baseman THIS season for a guy like the Royals’ Whit Merrifield (.286, six homers, signed through 2022) that the Sox won’t pursue because Pedroia MIGHT come back?
I love Pedey, and wish to the baseball gods he can return healthy. But in the meantime, if the Sox are avoiding improving their team now for the third straight year, a potentially healthy Pedey might have to accept a role off the bench until his contract is up. The Red Sox can’t wait forever.
Photo: Matt Weiss, Rotoworld