There’s no denying that Dustin Pedroia has been the Captain of the Boston Red Sox clubhouse since Jason Varitek’s retirement following the 2011 season. Pedroia’s the heart and soul of this team. The sparkplug that makes this team go. The kind of player who doesn’t think he’s done enough if his uniform doesn’t have the dirt stains and tears to show for it. He’s a fan favorite and according to multiple sources it would appear that the Red Sox organization has started pursuing a long term extension with their second baseman in an effort to ensure that he’ll be patrolling the infield at Fenway Park for years to come.
Principal owner John Henry first brought up the possibility of a contract extension for Pedroia during an appearance Thursday on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni show. Henry spent about an hour taking questions from callers and talking about the future of the organization with former Red Sox Lou Merloni, mentioning his desire to keep both Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury on the team for the foreseeable future. Henry didn’t allude to specifics on contract talks with Pedrioa’s representatives, but it was evident that he was hoping that for a deal to be worked out between the two sides before long. WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford learned that the two sides have had discussions on and off since this past offseason. Meanwhile, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has heard that talks have progressed to the point where there appears to be a basic framework in place to build off – with some remaining details left to be ironed out.
It appears that the extension being discussed could be for five or six seasons, with an average annual value in the neighborhood of $20 Million per year. He cites the six year, $100 Million extension that the Tampa Bay Rays handed Evan Longoria as a potential comparable. Pedroia is already under contract for 2014 for $10 Million and the team holds an $11 Million option for 2015. Passan reports that one remaining hurdle could be whether the extension would replace those two remaining years of team control or add on to them. Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com learned that a formal offer was presented to Pedroia’s agents during the All Star Break, but it’s unclear as to what the specifics of this offer entailed.
Should Pedroia receive an extension that could potentially pay him close to $20 Million per year, he’d instantly become the highest paid second baseman in Major League history. He’d also leave the rest of the second base market clearly in his dust – for the time being.
Ian Kinsler is earning $15 Million this season from the Texas Rangers. Dan Uggla of the Atlanta Braves ($12.4 Million) and Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies ($12.1 Million) check in next in terms of AAV among second baseman. Brandon Phillips’ extension with the Cincinnati Reds will pay him $13 Million in 2016 and $14 Million in 2017, but for the moment he’s making a more modest sum. Pedroia will almost certainly exceed those figures – be it from an extension now or once he reaches free agency himself following the 2015 season if the sides can’t work out a deal beforehand – but he won’t be alone. Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees will potentially hit the free agent market this winter, unless he and the Yankees are able to agree on an extension before he’s available on the open market. Rumblings have suggested that a potential deal could come close to $200 Million in overall value, almost assuring that he’s looking at $20 Million per year or more.
Pedroia and Cano have long been lumped together in discussions about the top second baseman in the game, beyond the obvious tie in stemming from the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. There’s always been a significant gap in their perceived value, however. Cano is a .308/.354/.505 career hitter (through Friday’s games). Pedroia stands at .304/.372/.458. Cano has more home runs (198 to 96) and doubles (353 to 270). Pedroia has the higher stolen base total (115 to 37) and fewer strikeouts (378 to 657). Pedroia also got started a year behind Cano and missed some time with injuries, so he’s seen about 1,000 fewer plate appearances than his counterpart. Both players have won a pair of Gold Glove Awards and played in multiple All Star Games (Cano 5, Pedroia 4). Cano’s won four Silver Slugger Awards. Pedroia has just one, but can also note the Rookie of the Year Award and MVP Award on his resume.
The pair have long been compared and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. They both may end up inking long term extensions with their current clubs, but could end up seeing vastly different total values from those deals. Pedroia appears closer to such a deal than Cano and it’s safe to say that little would make Sox fans happier than to learn that their diminutive second baseman and quiet team leader won’t be going anywhere for quite some time.