Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia announces retirement from baseball after 14 big-league seasons

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has announced his retirement from the game of baseball, the team announced earlier Monday.

Pedroia, 37, spent 14 major-league seasons with Boston and 17 with the organization as a whole after being selected by the club in the second round of the 2004 amateur draft out of Arizona State University.

The Woodland, Calif. native won three World Series titles with the Sox in addition to being named American League Rookie of the Year in 2007 and American League MVP in 2008. He also won one Silver Slugger award, four Gold Glove Awards, and was named to four American League All-Star teams.

Across 1,512 games in a Red Sox uniform from 2006-2019, Pedroia accrued a .299/.365/.439 slash line to go along with 140 home runs, 725 RBI, and 138 stolen bases over 6,777 career plate appearances.

Injuries had hindered Pedroia’s time on the field recently, though, as he had appeared in just nine games dating back to Opening Day 2018 on account of undergoing three separate knee surgeries.

Even while sidelined, however, Pedroia’s passion for the game — and to help his team — remained.

“Through championships and injuries, Dustin’s disciplined approach never wavered,” Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said. “His work ethic is incomparable, and we saw him attack his rehab during the last chapter of his career with the same intensity he approached the batter’s box in his prime. I know hanging up his spikes is not an easy decision for a competitor of his caliber. We are fortunate to have had him in a Red Sox uniform for so long and look forward to welcoming him back to Fenway Park to celebrate his career.”

Among all-time franchise leaders, Pedroia ranks 11th in games played, 10th in runs scored (988), eighth in hits (1,805), sixth in doubles (394), and sixth in stolen bases.

Listed at just 5-foot-9 and 170 lbs., Pedroia played with a certain kind of passion that enthralled those around him; teammates, coaches, and fans alike.

Whether it be hustling down the line, sprawling for a hard-hit groundball, or coming up with a clutch, late-inning hit, “the Laser Show” was as captivating as they come.

“From the first day we shared the field until today, the love, passion and enthusiasm for the game has not changed,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Pedroia, his teammate from 2006-2008. “It has been a pleasure to watch you grow as a player, teammate, husband and father. You have impacted our organization like few others and I live proud of you.”

Pedroia, who was entering the final year of the eight-year, $110 million contract extension he signed with Boston in 2013, will still receive the $12 million he was due to make in 2021.

A press conference regarding Pedroia’s announcement will begin at approximately 1:30 p.m. eastern time Monday afternoon, so stay tuned for that.

(Picture of Dustin Pedroia: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox feel top prospect Jeter Downs needs to gain more experience at second base in minors before getting big-league consideration

While the Red Sox continue to explore their options at second base this offseason, one thing is apparent: Don’t expect top prospect Jeter Downs to fill that gap next year, at least not right away.

This is the case because according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, the Red Sox would like to see the 22-year-old infielder gain more experience at second base at the minor-league level.

“The organizational perception is that [Downs] needs to experience the ups and downs of a semi-normal Triple-A season at this new position,” Bradford wrote over the weekend.

One of the three players (two prospects) Boston got in return from the Dodgers in the blockbuster Mookie Betts trade back in February, Downs has accrued significant playing time as a middle infielder in the minors, but little of that playing time as come at second.

Since being selected by the Reds with the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft out of Monsignor Pace High School (Fla.), the Colombia native has played 195 games (1,672 2/3 innings) at shortstop and just 84 games (698 1/3 innings) at second, with just one of those 84 coming above the High-A level in 2019.

FanGraphs does not get too in-depth with defensive metrics for minor-leaguers, but Downs recorded one error and helped turn seven double plays while patrolling second base for High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa last year.

This year, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented the minor-league season from taking place, so coveted prospects such as Downs were limited to working out at their club’s respective training sites, which in Downs’ case was in Pawtucket.

There, as noted by SoxProspects.com, the young infielder primarily focused on improving his defense with coach Bruce Crabbe.

“Crabby’s amazing,” Downs said via Zoom back in August. “Almost everyday now we go out there and we get a little work in with a couple other guys as well. It’s a good learning curve, everybody does extra hitting, so I felt like I wanted to do that same thing with my defense. As much as I hit, I also want to do the same amount of defense. I want to be elite at both sides of the ball, so that’s where I’m trying to get it to.”

As it turns out, Downs did put in the work at the alternate site to improve his defensive capabilities at both middle infield positions. At least that’s what Worcester Red Sox manager Billy McMillon said when speaking with reporters in October.

“He made tremendous strides defensively,” McMillon said of Downs. “There are some things he needs to work on, like his makeup and his confidence and things like that. I think those issues affected how he did offensively. As far as Jeter, I see tremendous upside. His track record of offensive performance indicates that at 7:05, when the lights are on, he shows up at the plate. I’m hopeful his track record offensively meshes well with the strides he made defensively. If that happens, I think you’ve got a pretty good player. I don’t want to give a comp or anything, but I think he would more than hold his own based on what he did defensively and how much better and more consistent he got.

“I think he would be a better second baseman longterm, but I do believe he could play shortstop,” added McMillon. “He made some plays that were just unbelievable at shortstop. I personally would see him a better fit at second base if we were talking about 162 games. I think his athleticism, his skills, would be a little better at second base. But he’s still young. I don’t want it to seem like he can’t play shortstop. I think he could do a fine job over there. In my eyes, I see second base when I see him.”

Depending on how the rest of the offseason pans out, Downs will presumably get the opportunity to play second base on an everyday basis with Triple-A Worcester in 2021.

There, as Bradford alluded to, the Red Sox will obviously be keeping a close eye on the right-handed hitter as he prepares to make the jump to the majors — or at least Boston’s 40-man roster — in the months leading up to him being eligible for the 2021 Rule 5 Draft.

In the meantime, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote earlier this month that while the plan is for Downs to continue to develop at Triple-A, the Sox could pursue free-agent second base options, like Kike Hernandez or Kolten Wong, who would sign one or two-year deals in order to “serve as a bridge to Downs.”

Of course, as Speier points out, it’s not out of the question that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could use Downs as a trade chip in order to acquire a bigger piece from another club.

That possibility likely depends on how the club views Downs, as well as its other second base candidates such as Jonathan Arauz, Christian Arroyo, and Michael Chavis, internally.

Red Sox one of several teams interested in signing Korean sensation Ha-Seong Kim, per report

The Red Sox are reportedly one of several teams that are interested in signing free-agent Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim, according to ESPN’s Daniel Kim.

Per ESPN’s Kim, “Kim has several MLB offers in the five-plus year range.”

Kim, 25, has has yet to play at the major-league level, but has proven to be one of the more impressive players in the Korean Baseball Organization over the past seven seasons.

Going back to 2014, the South Korean-born, right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing infielder owns a career slash line of .294/.373/.493 to go along with 133 home runs, 575 RBI, and 134 stolen bases over 891 total games between the Nexen Heroes and Kiwoom Heroes.

He has also proven to be one of the better defensive shortstops in the KBO in recent years, picking up a pair of Gold Glove awards for his efforts at short in 2018 and 2019.

Kiwoom officially posted Kim on December 7, giving major-league clubs until the first of January to acquire his services.

Depending on how much Kim signs for, that club will owe Kiwoom 20% of the contract’s first $25 million in value, 17.5% of the next $25 million, and 15% of anything beyond the $50 million threshold, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors‘ Mark Polishuk.

MLBTR predicts that Kim will land a five-year deal worth somewhere around $40 million with whichever club he signs with. They also had him as their seventh-ranked free agent at the onset of the offseason.

All this being said, the Red Sox should be players for Kim, but only if they can convince him to move to second base, a position he has very little experience at, on a (just about) full-time basis.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier observed earlier this month that as a five-star phenom in Korea, Kim’s “age and performance would fit the Sox’ vision of upgrading their long-term talent base” — but only if he is open to playing second.

“In all likelihood, [Kim’s] the only open-market second base option this winter for whom the Sox would consider a deal of more than two years,” Speier wrote.

This may be the case because the Red Sox are coming off a season in which their second basemen struggled mightily, as has seemingly been the case the past few years.

Among American League teams in 2020, Red Sox second basemen ranked 14th in on-base (.273) and slugging percentage (.313), and 15th in OPS (.586) and wRC+ (55).

Those are truly dismal numbers from one position group, and they will likely need to improve if Boston intends on not being one of the worst team in baseball for a second consecutive year in 2021.

Identifying second base as a potential area of weakness headed into the spring, how do Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. go about addressing that area in order to improve their squad?

Well, besides the trade market, free agency is always an option, too. And Kim — at the ripe age of 25 years old, just entering his prime — might just be the best infielder not named D.J. LeMahieu available to sign at the moment.

“The international market is an intriguing one and a good one,” Sox manager Alex Cora said of international free agents such as Kim during his virtual winter meetings media availability last week. “Like the rest of the big-league organizations, everybody’s paying attention and doing their homework.

“They’re very talented, they’re guys that can impact the game sooner rather than later,” added Cora. “It will be interesting how it moves in the upcoming days or weeks. These guys, throughout their careers, they’ve been very solid, very consistent, and that’s something that intrigues not only the Red Sox, but the rest of the organizations at the big-league level.”