Dustin Pedroia’s time on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster could be coming to an end relatively soon.
The 37-year-old second baseman was activated from the 60-day injured list along with five others late last month, which brought Boston’s 40-man roster up to 37 players.
Clubs have until this coming Friday, November 20, to protect Rule 5-eiligible minor-leaguers from this year’s Rule 5 Draft, or in other words, add them to their 40-man roster.
As currently constructed, the Sox have three open slots on their 40-man with upwards of 50 prospects in need of Rule-5 protection. Obviously, the math does not check out here, and the majority of those 50-plus minor-leaguers will be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft come December.
There are however a select handful of Red Sox prospects who will need to be protected, as they are regarded as some of the more promising young players in the club’s minor-league pipeline.
Left-hander Jay Groome, right-hander Bryan Mata, infielder Hudson Potts, outfielder Jeisson Rosario, right-hander Connor Seabold, and catcher Connor Wong are the six key prospects in this scenario.
Groome and Mata, both of whom signed with the Red Sox in 2016, are regarded by MLB Pipeline as the top two active pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system.
The other four — Potts, Rosario, Seabold, and Wong — have all been acquired by the Sox via trade(s) within the last 12 months, so it’s highly unlikely the club would want to risk losing any of them.
There could be other, lesser-known minor-leaguers the Sox consider worthy of a 40-man roster spot, as was the case with lefty Kyle Hart last year. But, for the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that the Red Sox have six players they would like to add to the 40-man with only three vacancies to work with.
This means that, in some capacity, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom will presumably look to reshuffle his team’s 40-man roster between now and Friday.
Players who are currently on the 40-man could either get traded, designated, or outrighted within the next five days, but those same players could also help another team if they wind up in the right situation.
There is plenty of risk involved in this process, but there is one route Bloom and Co. could take that could help mitigate that risk just a little bit. That being, take Pedroia, among others off the 40-man roster.
The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham reported last month that Pedroia and the Red Sox “are prepared to talk soon about a mutual understanding that would end his playing career.”
Though WEEI’s Rob Bradford later added on to that report by stating that “nothing” had yet to have been discussed between the two sides, a mutual agreement of some sorts here certainly makes sense from the Red Sox’ point of view.
Pedroia, a former MVP, has played in just nine total games over the last three seasons on account of issues with his left knee. He’s undergone three knee surgeries since 2017.
As he enters the final year of the eight-year, $110 million contract extension he signed with Boston back in 2013, it appears that the former second-round draft pick will be unable to play in 2021, or again, on account of how inactive he has been recently.
With that in mind, the Sox may look to reach some sort of settlement with Pedroia so that they can get out from some of the $12 million they owe him next year while also freeing up a 40-man roster spot for someone who can consistently contribute.
This is not exactly a fun scenario to consider, as Pedroia has proven to be one of the Red Sox’ undisputed leaders and all-time greats in his 15 or so years with the club, but it may be time to move on and have the four-time Gold Glover transition to a front office or coaching role within the organization, if possible.
Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran addressed this very issue in September, and he emphasized the notion that Pedroia will have a say in what the future holds for him as a Red Sox.
“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. “We’re going to talk to Dustin and he’s obviously going to have the most say in where things go from here. No. 1 is making sure he’s as healthy as he can be for the rest of his life, really. And certainly we want to talk to him and see how he’s feeling and see where he wants to go from here.”
In short, Friday’s Rule 5 deadline will serve as a key indicator for where the Red Sox currently stand with Pedroia and the four-time All-Star’s status moving forward.
Other players are likely to get moved around, too, but Pedroia is without a doubt the most significant figure whose spot on Boston’s 40-man roster could be in jeopardy. We will have to wait and see what Bloom and Co. have in store.