Since the Boston Red Sox 2007 World Series Championship, Dustin Pedroia has been the heart and soul of the team. The second baseman’s grit, heart, and body-on-the-line style of play have made him a favorite of fans and teammates alike. But there comes a time in every player’s career where Father Time begins to tighten his grip, and it appears Pedroia may be at this crossroad. He will turn 35 this season, and has missed significant chunks of time due to injury in two of the last three seasons. Last season, he missed all of August with a knee injury, and then returned only to reinjure the knee and end his season before the playoffs. Pedroia underwent cartilage-restoration surgery at the end of last October to hopefully solve the issue for good. Doctors estimate he will miss about seven months, with means he will be scheduled to return at the end of May.
There is no doubt that Pedroia can still play – his numbers over the last three years prove it.
2015 – 93 games played (GP), 12 HR, 42 RBI, .291 BA
2016 – 154 GP, 15 HR, 74 RBI, .318 BA
2017 – 105 GP, 7 HR, 62 RBI, .293 BA
The issue is staying healthy. Boston certainly hopes he can. Not only is he the heart and soul of the Red Sox, but Boston doesn’t want to be carrying his contract around as dead weight for the next few seasons. Pedroia is entering his fifth season of an eight-year, $110-million-dollar contract. In 2018, Boston will owe him $16.125 million. The Sox are already carrying a couple bad contracts – Hanley Ramirez (four years, $88 million) and Rick Porcello (four years, $82.5 million) – so they really can’t afford to carry an injured Pedroia’s contract. Boston is crossing their fingers that Pedroia will be able to return from the knee injury fully healthy and productive and hold Father Time at bay for at least a few more years.
In the meantime, Boston has a couple of options to plug the second base hole for the first two months of the year.
Brock Holt – Holt is the most likely option to fill in at second base. The super utility man represented Boston in the 2015 All-Star Game but hasn’t been quite the same since. In 2016, Holt batted just .255 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs in 94 games. Last season, he couldn’t find his rhythm after coming back from injury. He finished right at the Mendoza line (.200) and had just six extra-base hits in 140 at-bats. He’s very solid in the field though, with a career fielding percentage at second base of .976.
Marco Hernandez – The 25-year old utility infielder has yet to play a full season but has shown some promise. In 61 career games, he’s batted .284 with a home run, seven runs batted in, and 18 runs. He has struggled in the field at third base (.854 fielding percentage) and been serviceable at shortstop (.944). Luckily for Boston, Hernandez has played well at second (.974).
Deven Marrero – Like Hernandez, Marrero is a utility infielder who hasn’t show much with his bat. The 27-year-old’s career average is just .208 in 236 at-bats. There have been a few flashes, but not much on the offensive side. Most of his time in the field has been spent at third, but he’s been solid at second base (.979).
Boston’s options aren’t great while Pedroia is hurt, but they are enough to hold down the fort or a couple months. The Sox just have to hope Pedroia comes back like his old self or they are in a lot of trouble at second base.
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