Is Pedroia the next Joe Morgan?

December, 4, 2008
Hard to figure how this isn't a great deal for MLB's No. 1 organization

    The Red Sox wasted no time locking up American League MVP Dustin Pedroia with a six-year, $40.5 million contract, with an option for 2015, that takes them through three arbitration and two free-agent seasons.


    It is one of the four biggest nonarbitration deals ever, along with the contracts given to Hanley Ramirez, David Wright and Ryan Braun.

    The 25-year-old second baseman will receive a signing bonus of $1.5 million and a salary of $1.5 million in 2009, followed by salaries of $3.5 million, $5.5 million and $8 million in what would have been his three years of arbitration eligibility. Pedroia would earn $10 million salaries in 2013 and 2014.

    The deal, negotiated by agents Sam and Seth Levinson, also includes a team option to pay him $11 million in 2015 or buy him out for $500,000. If Pedroia is traded, the option would be voided.

    If he wins another MVP, his 2014 salary and 2015 option would increase by $2 million each. If he finishes second or third, they would go up by $1 million each, and he can accomplish that escalator twice.

Just to be clear about a couple of things …

This sort of deal is fantastic for teams like the Marlins (Hanley Ramirez), the Brewers (Ryan Braun) and the Rays (Evan Longoria), because it's vitally important for teams with serious budgetary concerns to lock up their great players for as long as possible. In each of those cases, the team is highly likely to be receiving great value for their dollars in the out years of the contract.

I believe it's just slightly less fantastic for the Red Sox, who don't have to worry nearly as much about cost control. This is still a great move, though. They probably won't have to worry about second base for many years, and -- considering that he turns 32 in 2015 -- Pedroia figures to be a good player, at the very least, throughout the life of the contract.

The MVP kickers are practically irrelevant for the Red Sox -- the term "rounding error" comes to mind -- but historically the notion of Pedroia's winning a second MVP Award is somewhat startling. Do you know how many second basemen have won two MVPs?

One: Little Joe Morgan.

Is Pedroia heading for the Hall of Fame, too?

Quite possibly. But let's not get too carried away. When Morgan was 21, 22 and 23, his OPS+ numbers were 131, 132 and 131. When Pedroia was 21 and 22, he was in the minors; at 23 and 24, his OPS+ numbers in the majors, even while winning Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, have been 112 and 122. Morgan's career was sidetracked for a few years by an injury before he peaked in his early 30s. But my opinion is that Morgan's underlying talent was greater than Pedroia's.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Little Joe is the most talented second baseman we've ever seen. Pedroia doesn't have to be Joe Morgan, or even a Hall of Famer, to more than justify his new contract. He just has to stay healthy and happy.



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