On the heels of an MVP campaign in 2008, the Red Sox took the necessary steps to ensure that Dustin Pedroia would be in Boston for a very long time, signing the slight second baseman to a six-year contract extension worth a little more than $40 million.
Considering the hardware Pedroia has racked up in a little over two seasons in the majors -- MVP, Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger -- that might not seem like a huge windfall, but keep in mind that he was four seasons away from free agency before he signed the deal.
The Red Sox are hardly trend-setters here. It has become en vogue to sign pre-arbitration players to long-term deals in recent seasons, with stars like Evan Longoria and Ryan Braun receiving similar extensions in the last year alone. All those factors considered, this still looks like quite a steal for Boston.
The Red Sox have bought out Pedroia's arbitration years as well as two years of free agency at the rate of $6.75 million annually. If they pick up his $11 million option for 2015, it will bump up to $7.36 million.
Sure, Pedroia might not have been the most overwhelming MVP winner ever, but that's a pittance for a club with deep coffers like the Sox. And lost in all the talk about Pedroia's stature (we get it, he's small!) is just how good of a player he has become. He led the American League in runs, hits and doubles this year. He's one of the hardest guys in baseball to strike out, and while he's shown that uppercut doubles stroke since the day he arrived in Boston, he also proved a legitimate home run and stolen base threat last year.
Considering the Yankees shelled out $30 million to second baseman Robinson Cano over four years last winter -- an average annual value of $7.5 million -- this deal is extremely favorable. For all the talk of how talented Cano is -- how high his ceiling might be -- Pedroia has been, in just about every way possible, a better player over the last two seasons. That could change, of course, but what won't is that Pedroia is locked up to a team-friendly deal for essentially the duration of his prime.
That certainly says something about how much Pedroia values financial security. It might say something about how much he loves playing in Boston. But there's a growing feeling around baseball that it also says something about what the market will be like for free agents this winter.
After all, if the reigning AL MVP is only worth $6-7 million a year, and $8-11 million in what would have been his free agent years, then how much can second- and third-tier free agents expect to make on the open market?