Half of the Red Sox 40-man roster is probably going to be jettisoned this winter, so it's not like one of those spots is absolutely essential, but it's worth asking the question -- how much longer can the Red Sox carry Dustin Pedroia if he's not going to play?
The former Rookie of the Year and MVP should be enjoying the twilight years of his career, but a serious knee injury has left him unlikely to play again. He still has one year and $12 million remaining on his contract, and the Red Sox are on the hook for that money unless he retires or takes a buyout.
General manager Brian O'Halloran said the team will engage with Pedroia soon.
"I think Dustin is so important to this franchise and certainly we'll be checking in," he said. "We all check in with Dustin quite frequently during the season, it's hard not to, he's always -- whatever is going on in Boston, he's paying attention and it's always good to check in with him. We'll be talking with him soon now that the season has completed and take it from there. We don't have anything, any particular plans right now. We'll be engaging with Dustin soon."
The team has a couple of options. One is to leave Pedroia on the 40-man when rosters are due this fall, which isn't particularly onerous, since they're not exactly flush with young talent in need of protection. He can be moved to the 60-day injured list next season to create room on the 40-man.
The Red Sox could also simply release him, though they'd still be on the hook for his salary. Pedroia could also retire or agree to a settlement, though the former would mean he's not paid, and the latter would mean he's not paid in full.
In any event, the Red Sox are leaving that ball in Pedroia's court.
"I don't think that any one particular roster spot is something I would focus on as a problem, and certainly (not) when it's Dustin Pedroia," O'Halloran said. "Like I said, we're going to talk to Dustin and he is obviously going to have the most say where things go from here. No. 1 is making sure that he is as healthy as he can be for the rest of his life, really. Certainly we want to talk to him and see how he's feeling and see where he wants to go from here."