How Team-Friendly Dustin Pedroia Contract Affects Red Sox for 2014 and Beyond
The announcement, confirmed by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, of a new, seven-year, $100 million contract extension between Dustin Pedroia and the Boston Red Sox is a boon for both parties, giving Pedroia a lucrative, long-term extension while supplying the organization with cost certainty moving forward.
From Pedroia's perspective, the contract is significant, allowing the franchise player to remain in Boston well into the twilight of his career. By eliminating the 2014 and 2015 options from his contract, the 29-year-old will enter his early 30s without the weight of contract years or year-to-year performance hovering over his game.
Over the course of baseball history, second basemen, most recently Chase Utley, Roberto Alomar and Jose Vidro, have faded in their early 30s. If that happens to Pedroia, his long-term earning potential can't take a hit with a new, guaranteed contract.
While Pedroia will benefit greatly, the Red Sox front office, assuming healthy and solid production from Pedroia during the deal, will come across as the real winner here.
The ability to lock up a player like Pedroia, a former MVP worth at least four wins per season during every 140-plus-game season of his career, for $14.3 million annually is a win-win deal, but it looks even better when taking a look at the future payroll commitment currently allotted in Boston.
Or, in other words, the lack of payroll commitment moving forward.
Pedroia's new deal gives the team payroll flexibility next winter, potentially allowing the front office to keep free-agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury or first baseman Mike Napoli.
More importantly, the cost certainty of Pedroia's deal, as opposed to option years and free agency for the franchise cornerstone, will give Boston the ability to reach for true star power in future free-agent classes.
Looking years into free-agent classes can be a fruitless exercise, but for the sake of fun, here are some players who may hit the open market after the 2014 or 2015 seasons: Clayton Kershaw (post-2014), Miguel Cabrera, Jason Heyward, Aroldis Chapman, Chris Davis, David Price, Matt Wieters and Mat Latos (post-2015).
Heading into the 2016 season, with the assumption of Clay Buchholz's $13 million option being exercised, Boston has only $27.3 million committed to two players: Buchholz and Pedroia. If all goes to plan, two All-Star-level contributors will be playing in Fenway Park for way under market value.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington cleared hundreds of millions of dollars off the books last August in a roster purge with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That move set the stage for the low-risk, high-reward offseason of 2012-13, vaulting the Red Sox to the top of the AL East standings.
It also set the franchise up to reward Pedroia and keep maximum flexibility moving forward.
The 2013 Red Sox are a good team because of smart, efficient payroll maneuvers. By re-signing Pedroia now, months before Robinson Cano rewrites the market for star second basemen, Boston is setting itself up to be a major free-agent player again very soon.
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