12/03/08 6:13 PM EST
Pedroia signs extension with Red Sox
AL MVP locked up in six-year deal worth more than $40 million
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
The Red Sox and Pedroia reached agreement Wednesday on a six-year, $40.5 million contract. Included in the deal is a seventh-year club option worth $11 million. Interestingly, that option would be waived if Pedroia is traded at any time during the contract.
"It's something we're thrilled about," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "It's definitely something we wanted as a club and something I think Dustin was looking to do as well. It came together as a product of a lot of hard work. He really embodies just about everything we look for in a Red Sox player. That makes this a great day for the organization."
After winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, Pedroia topped that by capturing the AL Most Valuable Player Award, a Gold Glove Award and a Silver Slugger Award this past season.
"I'm extremely excited," said Pedroia. "I definitely wanted to be here a long time and help the Red Sox win. Today, it happened, and hopefully the next six years, we can win some championships.
"My first thought about the whole thing was, 'I play for the best team in the Major Leagues.' Who wouldn't want to play for the Boston Red Sox? We're going to have an opportunity to win every year. The fans are the best. The city embraces their team, so why not? It fits."
By signing the contract, Pedroia gave up two potential years of free agency, which would have started in 2013.
Clearly, the right-handed-hitting machine was far more concerned with playing in the environment he's grown to love than maximizing his bank account.
"I understood all that stuff," Pedroia said. "I know if I would have gone year to year, yes, I probably would have made a lot more money. Yes, I understand that, without a doubt. But I'm here at a place that I love. My family loves it. They treat us unbelievably. It's like a family here.
"I'm happy with this, extremely excited. My wife is excited. My parents, they're ecstatic. All my friends, even my teammates. I want to be here. I want to play for the Red Sox. I don't want to play for anybody else. It just seemed right to do something."
Red Sox fans can now take heart in the fact that the 25-year-old Pedroia will continue to be a sparkplug through at least 2014.
The deal also included a $1.5 million signing bonus. Pedroia will earn $1.5 million in 2009, followed by $3.5 million in '10, $5.5 million in '11, $8 million in '12, $10 million in '13 and $10 million in '14.
Judging by the success Pedroia has had in his first two seasons, there's no reason to think the Red Sox won't get plenty of bang for their buck in the deal, not to mention continued leadership in the clubhouse and the community.
"Dustin plays hard, first and foremost, all the time," said Epstein. "He plays to win. He plays for his teammates, not for himself. He's the type of player who is not motivated by money, he's motivated by championships. He's prepared. He takes care of himself. He's professional. He and his wife Kelli are great representatives of the organization, off the field as well. He's kind of everything you look for."
It was telling that members of ownership, player development and community relations all attended the news conference. Pedroia has come to represent the Red Sox in many different ways since being drafted as the 65th overall pick in 2004.
"On behalf of John Henry, Tom Werner, and the entire Red Sox organization, I want to say that we are thrilled that Dustin has chosen to extend his contract with the Boston Red Sox," said club president/CEO Larry Lucchino in a statement. "Dustin's style of play and tremendous work ethic have quickly made him a fan favorite throughout the city of Boston and all across Red Sox Nation. He plays with a kind of gritty determination that serves as an inspiration not only to his teammates but to Red Sox fans of all ages, and we believe Dustin will play a key role in helping to bring more championships to Fenway Park in the years to come."
Manager Terry Francona, who has shared a close and comical relationship with Pedroia, was unable to attend the news conference because he was en route to a wedding.
"Congrats to Pedey," Francona said in a statement. "I think this is a great day for him and [wife] Kelli, but I also think it is a great day for our organization. Everybody is to be congratulated. With the six-year contract, I feel like I got a bump in salary because of his cribbage skills."
His 213 hits were tied with Ichiro Suzuki for most in the Major Leagues. His 56 doubles were the most in the game. He was second in the Majors with 118 runs and 61 multi-hit games. With a .326 average, Pedroia finished second to Minnesota's Joe Mauer in the race for the AL batting title. He also added some power (17 homers, 83 RBIs) and speed (20 stolen bases) to the mix.
Pedroia's swift rise to stardom has been surreal, considering many scouts doubted him because of his diminutive stature. Listed at 5-foot-9, Pedroia is probably two or three inches shorter than that. But he has consistently given the Red Sox big-time performances on both sides of the ball.
"I think it just shows that if you work as hard as you can, you could fit in in any environment and be successful," Pedroia said. "Definitely, everybody has helped me. All my coaches here, they've definitely put the time in with me and worked with me, all my teammates have helped me through a ton of stuff."
In Pedroia's rookie season, the Red Sox won the World Series. They fell just shy of that goal in 2008, losing to the Rays in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series. Clearly, Pedroia has relished the stage that comes with playing in Boston, both in the regular season and postseason.
Pedroia's new contract ranks among the largest given a non-arbitration-eligible player, joining Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez (six years, $70 million), Mets third baseman David Wright (six years, $55 million) and Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun (eight years, $45 million).
The last time the Red Sox signed a non-arbitration-eligible player to such an extensive deal back in the spring of 1998, when Nomar Garciaparra was inked to a seven-year, $50 million deal after winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
"[Pedroia's] a well-rounded player," Epstein said. "Offensively, what he's accomplished speaks for itself. Defensively, he's made an unbelievable transition from shortstop to second, and we think he's one of the best defensive second baseman in the game as well and runs the bases really well, despite his lack of blazing speed. What's not to like about this guy?"
And as far as Pedroia is concerned, what's not to like about knowing he's going to be in Boston for many years to come?
If the Red Sox wind up picking up the 2015 option, Pedroia will still be at a very marketable age (32) if he winds up exploring free agency.
"Yeah, I have confidence in my ability even at 32 years old," Pedroia said. "I'm going to be the player I am for longer than 32, I can tell you that for sure. I saw how long the deal was and I was excited about it. That means I get to be here in the place I love for the next six or seven years. That's the way I looked at it."
Ian Browne is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.