Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia doesn't owe the Red Sox a cent of his remaining salary

Dustin Pedroia doesn't owe the Red Sox a cent of his remaining salary

Allow me to get something off my chest: Dustin Pedroia does not owe the Red Sox a penny, and I hope he collects every last cent of the $25 million remaining on the final two years of his contract.

With Andrew Luck retiring and forfeiting more than $58 million in future salary, some have suggested Pedroia should do the Red Sox a solid and just walk away from the final two guaranteed years on his eight-year, $110 million contract if he's indeed finished, as we all suspect.

Pedroia didn't sound quite ready to hang up his spikes when he met with reporters in Colorado on Tuesday while sporting crutches, but he's realistic about his chances.

"(The doctor) said once you get all the strength back, your knee will tell you if you can play baseball or if that's it," Pedroia told reporters. "This time, I'm taking it by steps, man. It would be nice to not hurt first and then be able to do normal life stuff and then if that's the case, we'll jump to the main goal, so one step at a time and hopefully it works out."

Pedroia went on to detail how he will need a knee replacement one day, but he's too young to take that step now. It's clear that his quality of life will be permanently affected, with Pedroia noting that he recently threw batting practice to his sons, "and the next three days, I was not moving."

How did Pedroia end up this way? It wasn't through any personal negligence, but in service to the Boston Red Sox. The 2017 Manny Machado slide that many blame for landing him in this predicament was only part of the story. The truth is, Pedroia had sacrificed his body to the point of lasting damage before Machado ever came in spikes high.

According to Spotrac's injury database, Pedroia has spent 437 days on the disabled/injured list since 2015 alone with all manner of hamstring, wrist, and knee injuries. He missed more than half of the 2010 season after fouling a ball off his foot and breaking it, he played the entire 2013 season with a torn thumb ligament that required surgery, and his offseasons since have generally required one procedure or another.

When he signed that eight-year extension in 2013, it was mocked in some corners for being too team-friendly. Only months later, after all, contemporary and rival Robinson Cano would sign with the Mariners for 10 years and $228 million. "What do I care?" Pedroia liked to say. "I'm rich as (expletive)."

Given Pedroia's body type (small) and playing style (all out), the Red Sox must've suspected they wouldn't see a return on the final years of their investment. He turns 38 during the 2021 season and there were only so many miles on those legs.

The surgeries he has endured since 2017 — from cartilage restoration to arthroscopies to bioplasties — paint the picture of a knee that's hanging together with yarn (and for a time, cement). If you made that sacrifice for your job, would you then decline the final two years of your guaranteed salary to help out an employer that profited off your sacrifice? No? Then why should he?

"Going through rehab processes is tough," Pedroia said in response to a question about Luck. "You get opinions, you hear everything, so you've just got to try to put your head down and do it. It definitely wears you out."

While Pedroia could agree to some sort of settlement with the Red Sox if he decides his career is over, this generally isn't how baseball works. The Mets still owed David Wright $27 million after he unofficially retired last September, though insurance covered part of it. Prince Fielder spent more than a year on the Rangers' 40-man roster after a neck injury ended his career in 2016, collecting the more than $100 million remaining on his contract. The Yankees paid Alex Rodriguez $27 million to retire in 2016.

Why should Pedroia be any different? Answer: he shouldn't. He earned that money, it's fully guaranteed, and my guess is he'd trade it in a second for two good knees. But that's not an option.

When Price could return to Sox rotation>>>>>

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Is now the right time to trade Mookie Betts? Red Sox have all the evidence they need

Is now the right time to trade Mookie Betts? Red Sox have all the evidence they need

If Mookie Betts and the Red Sox are really $100 million apart, then the Red Sox should stop pretending he has a future in Boston and trade him right now.

WEEI's Lou Merloni reported on Wednesday that last year the Red Sox made Betts an offer in the 10-year, $300 million range, and he countered with 12 years and $420 million. That gulf is so sizable that meeting in the middle at $360 million might be considered unacceptable by both sides.

When the Red Sox infamously lowballed ace Jon Lester before the 2014 season, after all, their four-year, $70 million offer was probably only one year and $30 million less than Lester would've considered a legitimate starting point. And he still shut down negotiations before being traded and then joined the Cubs in free agency.

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At this point, the Red Sox have as much information as they need to discern Betts' intentions.

He wants to be paid closer to Mike Trout's $426.5 million than Manny Machado's $300 million, and he plans to do so in free agency. Keeping him in the hope that he suddenly agrees to an extension when he has never been closer to hitting the open market feels like a denial of reality.

That's why the chatter of Betts heading west to either San Diego or Los Angeles has suddenly intensified. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom should play the division rivals against each other to secure the best deal and move on.

Personally, I'd be focused on unloading both Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, paying enough of their combined $59 million in 2020 to land a package built around a promising young player like outfielder Alex Verdugo, and getting a jump on life in a post-Mookie world.

The alternative is keeping him until the trade deadline, letting this story hang over both player and organization through July, and then being unable to pull the trigger because the team clings to the periphery of the postseason race, at which point the Red Sox are left with basically nothing.

Trading Betts now doesn't even preclude the possibility of him signing long-term, because if the Red Sox decide they simply can't live without their former MVP, his desire to reach the market could actually cut back in their favor. Nothing would stop them from making a massive offer next winter and trying to bring him back, à la the Yankees after trading closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for three months in 2016.

That said, if the Red Sox trade Betts, I suspect it would be forever, and there's a case to be made for that, too. Ten- or 12-year deals are generally bad business, no matter how talented the player, because there are too many ways they can sour.

The Angels have been riding out Albert Pujols' decline almost from the day he signed a 10-year, $240 million contract in 2012 at age 32, and even if he had signed at 28 before winning back-to-back MVP awards, it would still be money poorly spent. The same goes for Robinson Cano (10 years, $228 million), Miguel Cabrera (effectively 10 years, $292 million), and unfortunately, Dustin Pedroia, who's not going to see the finish of his eight-year, $110 million extension in 2021, thanks to a degenerative knee injury.

Betts is younger than all of them (27), which works in his favor, but we have not made nearly a big enough issue of his size when calculating the risk of a lengthy deal. He stands only 5-foot-9, and that's not a stature that yields longevity.

Since 1980, only three players that height have delivered a .900 OPS in at least 100 games after age 30 — Matt Stairs (twice), Lonnie Smith, and Kirby Puckett. For $35 million a year, .900 feels like a reasonable floor, but for players Betts' size it's actually a pretty hard ceiling, with his most promising comps being Puckett — who saw an eye injury end his career at age 35 — and former Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, who made five All-Star teams between ages 30 and 35.

Otherwise, we're talking about players such as Chuck Knoblauch, Marcus Giles, Brian Roberts, Pedroia, and Jimmy Rollins — undersized stars who peaked in their 20s before experiencing precipitous declines in their 30s. Cleveland's Jose Ramirez could join that group, which might even include Hall of Famer Tim Raines, whose case became borderline based on his 30s.

In any event, there's now more than enough evidence for the Red Sox to experience clarity on their most pressing offseason issue: it's time to trade Mookie Betts.

MLB Rumors: Red Sox interested in Mark Kotsay for managerial opening

MLB Rumors: Red Sox interested in Mark Kotsay for managerial opening

The Boston Red Sox's search for their new manager has been rather slow, but a new candidate may be emerging.

The Red Sox reportedly have an interest in Oakland Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay, according to MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo.

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Although Kotsay, 44, a former outfielder who played for the Red Sox in 2008 and '09 in a major league playing career spanning more than 16 years, has no MLB managerial experience, he has worked in the San Diego Padres' front office as well as serving on the Padres and Athletics coaching staffs since retiring in 2013.

After firing Alex Cora earlier this month, the Red Sox have been linked to multiple managerial candidates, including Ron Roenicke, Jason Varitek, Dino Ebel and Joe McEwing. Although Boston is still in the thick of the managerial hunt with spring training approaching in two weeks, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported that the Red Sox are unlikely to make a hire before next week.