Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
Dustin Pedroia has become the face of the Red Sox franchise and the Red Sox want it to stay that way. Extension talks between the team and Pedroia are expected to take place this spring.
The Red Sox have not discussed an extension with their star second baseman Dustin Pedroia just yet, but Alex Speier of WEEI.com says those talks are expected to happen at some point this spring. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was less direct about this issue, saying:
"I can’t rule it out, but I can’t rule it in, either. It’s something that, I think in those cases, certainly the closer a player is to free agency, the more likely those conversations take place…. When you have players who have done a lot for the team and mean a lot to the team, I think you always have to have an open door to a conversation, but that doesn’t mean that it goes anywhere."
Pedroia signed a six year, $40.5 deal with the Red Sox after his 2008 MVP season. That deal will pay him $10M this season and in 2014 and it includes an option for 2015 at $11M with a .5M buyout, so the Red Sox are not under any major pressure to extend the second baseman. However, the Red Sox are certainly aware of Robinson Cano’s impending free agency and the impact that could have on any future deal with Pedroia.
Related: Dustin Pedroia, Lifelong Red Sox?
The Yankee star will be a free agent after the 2013 season and he will almost certainly command a salary well above $100M. Cano was far and away the better player in 2012, but over the course of their careers, the two rival second basemen have been very similar in value.
Cano is a slightly better hitter, thanks primarily to his superior power, but the difference is not as great as many fans may suspect. Cano has hit .308/.351/.503 for his career for a wOBA of .366 and a wRC+ of 124. While he lacks Cano’s power, Pedroia has a much better eye at the plate, walking 9.1% for his career, well above Cano’s 5.6% rate. Pedroia has hit .303/.369/.461 for a wOBA of .362 and a wRC+ of 119 on his career, just 5% off Cano’s production at the plate.
Pedroia has been the better fielder, however, and by a wide margin. By Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), he has saved 50.5 runs in his career, while Cano has cost theYankees 30.2. Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) likes Cano’s glove far more, crediting him with 17 runs saved in his career, but that is nothing compared to Pedroia’s 62 runs saved. Total Zone is the only metric that doesn’t wildly favor Pedroia, giving him just a five run advantage on defense. Fangraph’s version of WAR has Cano worth 32.5 wins on his career and Pedroia worth 30.1, with more than 1000 fewer plate appearances.
Should Cano set a new high water mark for second baseman contracts with the Yankees, as many expect he will, the Red Sox would almost certainly see Pedroia’s cost rise when he becomes a free agent. For this reason, the Red Sox may be willing to add a few million to their star’s contract over the next few years to avoid overpaying beyond 2015 or chance losing the current face of their franchise.
The Red Sox may feel the need to lock up Pedroia before Cano resets the market, but they also have reason to be cautious. Second baseman have the reputation for aging poorly and Pedroia is know for his hard-nosed, full-tilt playing style. He suffered a season ending foot injury in 2010 and while he was able to play through a thumb injury last season, the issue hurt his production at the plate significantly. The Red Sox are very likely to try to work out a long term deal, but it is still hard to gauge how likely they are to reach an agreement.