Pedroia makes deal official in place he calls home
BOSTON -- It was only fitting that Dustin Pedroia was already in his Red Sox uniform when he sat on a makeshift stage with general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell to discuss the newly signed contract that should keep him in Boston through 2021.
That meant that once the news conference was over, Pedroia could get right back to work.
The security of a new deal -- worth $110 million over eight years -- isn't going to slow Pedroia down. If anything, it will only push him harder.
It was also fitting that the news conference was held on the field at Fenway Park, for there is no place Pedroia feels more comfortable.
"This place is the only place I've known since I started playing professional baseball," Pedroia said. "It's my home, and I love every single part of being a Red Sox, and I'll do all I can for the remainder of my time here to try to help us any way I can to do the right things on and off the field and bring an attitude that the Red Sox are going to try to win every single year and win our last game."
Cherington mentioned Pedroia's hard work between the hours of 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. leading up to most games.
David Ortiz, who walked over to second base, picked the bag off the ground and gave it to Pedroia, said, "When we play a night game, this [guy] is here by noon. I know."
Because Pedroia is such the early bird -- you'd be hard-pressed to ever find a day when he isn't the first player at the ballpark -- perhaps it's only fitting that he got this contract in motion long before it was time.
The seeds for the contract Pedroia formally signed on Wednesday were planted when he had dinner with agent Seth Levinson in Kansas City while the Red Sox were playing there in August 2011.
Yes, 2011. Levinson couldn't believe it either. Pedroia still had three seasons, plus an option year in 2015, on the original deal he signed after his Most Valuable Player season of 2008.
"Dustin's quest for an extension began two years ago," Levinson said. "He understood that it was financial lunacy to negotiate an extension four years before free agency. His primary objectives were to be treated fairly and play his entire career in Boston. This contract achieves that end."
And in typical Pedroia fashion, he never hid his intentions.
Six months after that dinner, Pedroia told Red Sox owner John Henry exactly what he was thinking.
"He came to me a year and a half ago about this, about wanting to spend his career here," Henry said. "And so it was just something we've been discussing now for a year and a half. It's difficult, I think you'll understand, with any player who's under contract for an extended period of time, to re-up that far in advance. It's something we've been talking about and sort of preparing for for the last year and a half. I think it's a great deal for us."
Not only will Pedroia continue to have an impact on the Red Sox with the way he plays all facets of the game, but his impact on the culture of the team should grow stronger through the years.
If he is working tirelessly on his craft year-round, it would seem, others will continue to follow.
"Since July 21, 2004, which is the date he signed his first contract with the Red Sox, he's represented everything that we'd want a player to represent," said Cherington. "He helps us win in all sorts of ways, as we know, with his bat, his glove, his baserunning. But he also impacts the organization in a lot of other ways. In the offseason, through his work, he's an inspiration to others, to his teammates, to other players, and he sets an example for how he prepares and comes to Spring Training."
Though there's always a risk in signing a player early, the Red Sox felt the potential reward made it well worth it.
"This contract does represent an exception for us, and as we told Dustin in Spring Training, he's absolutely the right person to make an exception for," Cherington said. "We're thrilled that we're sitting here today. This contract gives Dustin a very good chance to finish his career in Boston and, more important, for all of us, and I think Dustin also, it's a another very important step for us toward building a great team year in and year out with him, and that's a goal we both share."
Pedroia's new deal netted him a signing bonus of $1 million and the following base salaries: 2014, 12.5 million; '15, $12.5 million; '16, $13 million; '17, $15 million; '18, $16 million; '19, $15 million; '20, $13 million; '21, $12 million.
Robinson Cano could certainly score a larger package when he becomes a free agent this winter, but Pedroia didn't much care about waiting for a market to be set.
"I mean, it was a no-brainer to me," Pedroia said. "This was the place where they gave me the opportunity to play professional baseball. I want to make sure I do all I can to prove to those people that took a chance on me [that they were] right. I'm not here to set markets or do anything like that. I want to make sure that the team I'm on wins more games than the other team's second baseman. That's the way I look at it. Our job is to win games, and that's what I play for."
Pedroia entered Wednesday's game against the Rays hitting .306 with six homers, 58 RBIs and a slash line of .384/.420/.804. On defense he has been nearly flawless, making two errors in 45 total chances.
But those numbers don't tell the full story.
"Comfort can be found in the measureables," said Levinson. "However, greatness lies in the immeasurables. Character and the unique and extraordinary ability to unify and lead a team to heights that most thought were not possible cannot be measured. Heart and the unbridled passion and drive to win cannot be measured. Dustin's value far transcends his statistics, and he is the epitome of the player who embodies all of the immeasureables that are necessary to win."