This is the first spring in 17 years that there is no number 49 or 33 on the field mentoring others wearing numbers like 71 and 98. Rarely do players end their career’s with the team that they were with when they blossomed into a star. Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra are a few of those Red Sox greats that moved on to other teams, even if those moves were a bit unceremonious. This current Red Sox team is loaded with talent, some homegrown and some imported from other teams. Is there any current Sox star that will retire without leaving Beantown?
Dustin Pedroia – At 22 years of age, Pedroia rose from the farm system and implanted himself concretely into the hearts of Red Sox fans. He’s not tall or flashy and he doesn’t have one of baseball’s sweet swings, but he grinds and hustles and puts up MVP-like numbers. Now 28, Pedey still has a ways to go before we start to think about his retirement. Given the numbers he has already put up and the numbers he is projected to continue to put up, his current contract is an absolute steal for the Sox. Signed through 2015, Pedroia will make an average of $9.75M over the next four seasons (not including production incentives). After his current contract is up, Pedey will still only be 31 years old, so barring major injury issues or an unexpected big drop in production, the Sox will likely look to extend him in another deal, possibly one that will last into his mid-to-upper 30s.
Jacoby Ellsbury – Due to his tremendous breakout season in 2011, Ellsbury’s salary jumped from $2.4M to $8.05M through arbitration. With another big season, it’s likely that Ellsbury will crack the $10M mark in his last arbitration eligible year before becoming a free agent in 2014. Scott Boras is his agent, so don’t expect this organizationally-grown product to show much mercy when it comes time to talk contract extension. Trade rumors have already begun to be whispered in the winter air, so keeping Ellsbury in a Red Sox uniform for the long-term is far from a given.
David Ortiz – For the last two seasons, Ortiz has asked for a multi-year deal. Both times, however, he has been locked into a one-year deal, first by a team option and then by a weak market that wouldn’t have guaranteed him more than he will make with the Sox this season. Now 36, it’s only a matter of time before his skills see a big decline. Papi’s inability to play the field and his detrimental baserunning skills make him a boom or bust designated hitter. It’s feasible that if Ortiz’s numbers fall off this season he might enter into a free agent market that has not been kind to aging DH types — Vladimir Guerrero is still looking for a job. This would force Ortiz into retiring as a member of the Sox, but not matter what, it seems likely that he’ll do everything he can to play in 2013, in Boston or elsewhere.
Adrian Gonzalez – A-Gone will turn 30 in May and his contract could keep him in Boston through age 36, which is right at a point in which he may still be productive enough to want to play a couple more years.
Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz – It is extremely rare to see a pitcher play his entire career with one team. Tim Wakefield, who started his career in Pittsburgh, spent seemingly forever with the Sox, but being a knuckleballer had a lot to do with that. Star-level starting pitchers get expensive and, as are pitchers in general, are always an injury risk, especially as the innings begin to add up over the course of a long career. Though Lester is currently signed to an extremely team-friendly contract, he’ll only be 30 when that deal is up, at which point it’s likely that he’ll be in a position to demand a much more lucrative deal. The same can be said for Clay Buchholz, who could potentially be under contract through his age 32 season. However, Buchholz has already dealt with a worrisome back issue and his numbers, in terms of K/BB rate, are far from impressive.
Is there a current Red Sox star that you think will retire without jumping to a different team?