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Dave D'Onofrio's Sox Beat: Pay Pedroia
And it will be a wise decision.
Critics will question the wisdom of potentially paying $100 million to a No. 3 hitter who may not even hit his 100th career home run before the end of this season. (He entered Monday with 94.) But it’s not about power; it’s about the package.
The Cano factor
As good as Pedroia is, Yankee Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in the game. When he is a free agent at the end of this season, he and new agent Jay-Z will be out to wring every penny out of the open market.
If Pedroia winds up making $20 million per year, it probably pushes Cano’s starting price to nearer $25 million. At the least, it might force the Yankees to pony up more than they’d like — though maybe, considering the money it still owes to Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, New York would play hardball. And maybe Cano would get his money elsewhere.
Pedroia turns 30 next month. So he’ll be 32 when his pre-existing deal expires. Again, if the Sox know they want him for 2016 and beyond, it’s sensible to give Pedroia his money now, so at least they’ve got a better chance of paying him like a star while he’s actually within his prime. There’s a greater chance of the team getting its moneys’ worth if the contract runs from age 30-35 than it would from 32-37.
Perhaps the gaudy roundness of $20 million per year has blinded some people. But, in truth, that wouldn’t represent a dramatic overpayment for a player of Pedroia’s caliber.
This season, 20 players are making at least $18 million. Thirty are making $16 million or more. Including pitchers, Pedroia ranks 16th in WAR, and he’s consistently been in that class for almost six seasons. The going rate for that is pushing $20 million — especially for a Sox team that gleefully gave Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster all around $13 million a year last winter, despite being older and more limited as players.
Among the most overblown storylines emanating from the Bobby Valentine era was the suggestion that Pedroia lost credibility as a leader by saying “that’s not how we do things around here” when the manager publicly chastised Kevin Youkilis. Pedroia was a leader then, he is a leader now. He’s accountable. He takes his job as seriously as anyone in the clubhouse. He is a player who teammates like. And he is someone whose example all should follow.
“This is all I know,” Pedroia said Friday. “These guys are my family. If it got to that point, it would be great.”
Dave D’Onofrio covers the Red Sox for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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