He’s two years removed from playing a full season and clearly his knee has been an issue. However, Dustin Pedroia still has a lot of skills and traits that can still be useful to this team. He’s still locked up for a fair amount of time. He’s going to make roughly 40 million dollars over the final three years of his contract. Can he still produce at a level that merits having that contract on the books? That is yet to be determined, but first and foremost, Dustin has to get healthy. The now 35-year-old second baseman is fortunate for many reasons. Mainly, with Kinsler departing, he faces almost no competition on the roster for his position. If he can get strong over the winter and be ready for the spring, he’ll have his chance to make an impact for Boston like he did back in 2016 and preceded by various season earlier.
Pedroia’s Achilles Heel
Unfortunately for Pedroia, he just can’t shake the pain in his left knee. Father Time isn’t on his side either, by any means, but the two-year-old knee injury has to be frustrating Dustin. In 2016 he hit .318 with an OPS of .825. Both of these numbers are exceptional, even all-star worthy. Then Manny Machado came along.
The collision between the two in April of 2017 appears to be what initially led to the injury for Pedroia. Machado’s late slide, that he claims as unintentional, took out the left leg of Dustin and frankly he has never been the same since. Pedroia has always been one that has struggled with the injury bug here and there. Nothing has ever compared to this, though.
Playing with the speedy, dirt-dog style that he does, his knees have already been taking a beating over the years. This has the potential to possibly sideline him for a good chunk of another season. Which would be similar to his 2018 where he played in only three games. Even worse, this has the potential to be it for Pedroia, at least with Boston.
Having paid him 16 million dollars last year for basically nothing, and 15 million in 17 for a half season isn’t good business. That equates to roughly 23 million in dead money, plus another 40 still on the Red Sox plate in the future. He’s going to have his chance in 2019 but he has to take it, or he could see himself out a similar door to Hanley Ramirez.
Can He Still Be Effective?
Like I said earlier, his last full season in 2016 was very good. Even in 2017, in limited action, he was a decent ballplayer at .293/.369/.760. IF, which is a big if, he can be ready to go for Opening Day AND stay healthy, the numbers seem like an attainable goal. It’s nothing special, and probably not worth the dollar amount he’s making, but it’s more than they got last year.
With Ian Kinsler highly unlikely to return, the door is wide open for Pedroia to take the reigns back. For him, it’ll be a transition to a different role, one as more of only a team leader and less as a contributor. When he could last year, he was always on the bench. He acted like an assistant coach at times for Alex Cora, something that likely had a huge influence on the team that won the championship.
If he can put up the aforementioned triple slash line from 2017, and continue to evolve into a mentor for the young guys like Rafael Devers and eventually Michael Chavis, he’ll be somewhat worth the money they’re paying him. As far as the team goes, they won 108 games and a World Series this year. Adding Pedroia back into the fold can only be a plus for this Red Sox team, and to me, it’s definitely an upgrade from Kinsler.