There comes a time when an aging player who has been the face of a franchise needs to step back (forced or not) for the good of the franchise. Whether it is an injury like Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts or Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees, Father Time seems to be unbeatable, except for David Ortiz and the Red Sox of course.
At the age of 33, Dustin Pedroia could hit the wall at any moment, but that for sure isn’t happening this season. Pedroia is 5th in the majors with a .320 average and currently tied for 4th in the league with 160 hits for the Red Sox. Pedroia has had injuries the past two seasons, causing some fans to think the former Rookie of the Year and MVP would never come back to form.
Pedroia is enjoying one of his best seasons of his career while also supplying veteran leadership to a team filled with young, talented players. You would think that David Ortiz would be the most important player to this team, but even he doesn’t think that, saying about Pedroia,
“That man is everything to us. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He plays a hundred miles an hour all the time. I think everybody can learn from him. I think the young guys play hard because they know Pedey plays hard and he would never give less than 100 percent. The team is in good hands with Pedey.”
In the month of August during a tight playoff race, Pedroia is hitting .398 with 37 hits and 12 RBIs, including hitting .668 in the last week. Even though Pedroia is having this incredible season, Red Sox management already started to plan for the future two winters ago. In 2015, the Sox signed Cuban mega-prospect infielder Yoan Moncada to a record-setting $31.5 million signing bonus.
Moncada has proven himself in the minor leagues, hitting .289 with 23 home runs, 99 RBIS, .397 OBP, and an .882 OPS in 185 games. Moncada is now the number one prospect in baseball according to Baseball America. Moncada came up playing second base but has recently switched to third base in Double-A Portland. Out of all the positions in the field, third base is the Sox weakest position both in the short-term and long-term. If Moncada can field at third base cleanly, we can see an infield that includes both Pedroia and Moncada sooner rather than later.
Xander Bogaerts is establishing himself as stud shortstop and when you think about the potential of a Moncada-Bogaerts-Pedroia infield, it would get any Sox fan very excited. Bogaerts signed as an amateur free agent and made his debut in 2013 at the age of 20 years old. With Moncada being 21 years old, the precedent of calling him a young infielder is already there for the Red Sox.
Even though Moncada could be ready to play at the major league level now, Dave Dombrowski isn’t in love with the idea. The President of Baseball Operations has said,
“First of all, if you’re going to bring a guy like that up, you want to make sure he has a chance to play some. It doesn’t do you much good if you’re going to bring him up and he just sits and doesn’t play. For example, when Benintendi came up, he played. We’ve talked a lot of generalities.”
With the combination of Pedroia mashing the ball, Moncada’s inexperience at third base, and Dombrowski’s comments, expectations to see Moncada this year should be low. As for 2017 and beyond, the Sox are in fantastic position to build one of the best infields in baseball.