Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia underwent surgery on his left knee today, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Glove (via Twitter). The team has announced that the “cartilage restoration procedure” will keep Pedroia from game action for approximately seven months.
If he stays on schedule, then, it seems the best case is that the 34-year-old Pedroia will miss approximately the first two months of the 2018 season. He also required a procedure on the same joint last October. He was able to work back to health over the offseason, but suffered further injury after taking a hard slide and ended up dealing with inflammation over the course of the 2017 campaign.
Pedroia remains a key part of the Boston plans, of course. He’s slated to earn $56MM through the 2021 season under the extension he signed in the summer of 2013. It’s fair to wonder, though, whether the Sox would be best-served buttressing their infield depth for the coming season.
That being said, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski suggests to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston that a significant move won’t be needed to account for the surgery. Given the timing and existing depth options, Dombrowski says this procedure and that of lefty Eduardo Rodriguez “do not really affect [the Red Sox’] offseason plans.” Indeed, the team does have some infielders with MLB experience — Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, Tzu-Wei Lin, Josh Rutledge, and Marco Hernandez — that could conceivably fill in, though all come with questions.
Notably, too, Dombrowski says that the team is optimistic about Pedroia’s ability to return to effectiveness. And it would surely be premature to doubt a player of Pedroia’s stature and long-lauded toughness. Indeed, there’s plenty of reason to believe he can still play at a fairly high level as he reaches his mid-thirties. Even when battling through injury in 2017, Pedroia turned in a .293/.369/.392 batting line. While that’s shy of his typical output, including his work in the prior two seasons, it still represents league-average productivity with the bat. Perhaps some of the power will return with better health.
At the same time, Pedroia’s defensive and baserunning metrics have declined quite a bit of late. Though he’s still generally valued as a positive in the field, Fangraphs’ BsR measure paints him as a significantly below-average runner. In the aggregate, given his age and injury history, there’s also cause quite some uncertainty as to Pedroia’s future outlook.
Some may wonder why it took this long for the move. Dombrowski explained, though, that the surgery was accomplished as soon as possible once it was decided upon. Understandably, Pedroia first spent some time assessing his options with doctors, as it’s not a minor procedure. Sox righty Steven Wright, who’s still working back from the same thing, detailed an “excruciating” and ultimately lengthy recover in a recent conversation with WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.