Boston Red Sox: Temporary replacements for Dustin Pedroia

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Dustin Pedroia
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Dustin Pedroia /

The Laser Show likely won’t premiere at Fenway Park until late May, 2018. So who could the Boston Red Sox get to fill in for Dustin Pedroia until then?

The Boston Red Sox official Twitter profile tweeted the following news on Wednesday morning:

"“2B Dustin Pedroia underwent a successful cartilage restoration procedure on his left knee today. #RedSox.”"

The Red Sox hope Pedey will return to the field in approximately seven months. But, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham notes, that means he could miss close to one-third of the 2018 season:

The Boston Red Sox need someone to step into his substantial shoes and fill in at second base until his return. Obviously, there are two ways they could approach this.

Internal Candidates

Currently, the Sox 40-man roster features five players with at least one start at the keystone in the majors.

Utility man extraordinaire Brock Holt played both second base and shortstop in the minors. Since reaching the big leagues, however, he has manned every position except pitcher and catcher. The Sox have never been shy about penciling his name in the lineup. But ultimately they might prefer the flexibility to deploy Holt across the diamond instead of one, fixed position.

Boston Red Sox
BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 01: Brock Holt /

Likewise, the team has an affinity for Josh Rutledge. They used the Rule 5 draft to pluck him back from Colorado after losing him as a free agent. Unfortunately a concussion and a hip injury limited Rutledge to just 37 games last season. Given good health, the right-handed Rutledge would make an intriguing platoon mate for the lefty swinging Holt.

Deven Marrero, Tzu-Wei Lin and Marco Hernandez have yet to fully establish themselves in the bigs. But each possesses skills making them at least a stopgap option. Both Marrero and Lin draw positive reviews for their glove work, while Hernandez offers a better bat. Given their inexperience, however, it would be a surprise to see any of them starting on Opening Day.

Of course, there’s also a sixth player on the roster with some prior experience at the keystone. Many Sox fans remember Mookie Betts played second base in the minors. He transitioned to centerfield with Pawtucket primarily to get his bat in the lineup. Could Betts dust off the infielder’s glove once again? Maybe, if the switch were permanent, but unlikely on a temporary basis. And given his Gold Glove winning work in rightfield, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

External Candidates

Given his age and history, the Boston Red Sox might be wise to hedge their bets on Pedroia’s return to full health. So the ideal fill-in candidate might be more than that. Someone who could capably play second for a contender but also play other positions if and when Pedey returns.

Old friend Jed Lowrie is a free agent. After two seasons in purgatory, sorry, Oakland, would a return to the postseason entice Lowrie to return to Boston? Perhaps, but coming off arguably his best full season, the switch hitter is sure to be in demand. Plus, Lowrie isn’t exactly durable either, topping 500 plate appearances just three times in 10 years.

OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 24: Khris Davis /

Another familiar face, Stephen Drew is likewise a free agent. But the soon-to-be 35 year old’s best years are behind him and it’s debatable he’d offer anything better than Holt.

A pair of former Silver Sluggers, Neil Walker and Brandon Phillips are also available to the highest bidder. Walker battled leg and back issues over the past two seasons, but his bat remains potent. Last year, he topped double digits in homers for the eighth straight season while also playing first and third base. He’s also the youngest of these options, turning 32 years old this past September.

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Phillips, too, remains capable at the dish and on the basepaths, logging his tenth career 10-10 season. At 36 and with but three career postseason appearances, Phillips might jump at the opportunity to play for a contender. The longtime second baseman also made his first career starts at the hot corner last season.

Last, but not least, Chase Utley could be seeking a new home this winter. Depending on how the World Series plays out, he could be sporting new bling as well. Like Drew, however, he’s little more than a clubhouse presence these days and offers limited flexibility.

Before you ask, no, I didn’t forget about Eduardo Nunez. But given his youth, versatility and impressive performance with the Sox, I expect to see him starting somewhere in 2018. Just not in Boston.

The Verdict

Dustin Pedroia is as tough as they come and I wouldn’t be surprised if he meets or beats his ETA. His reputation took a hit last season, but his leadership on and off the field is hard to replace. And when he is on the field, he remains a solid player with both bat and glove.

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So I can’t imagine the Sox filling his shoes with anything more than a temp at this stage. A Holt/Rutledge platoon seems the most likely, unless Lowrie, Walker or maybe Phillips accepts a sweetheart deal to chase a ring.

Regardless, whoever winds up playing second base on Opening Day, 2018 may simply serve as reminder to Boston Red Sox fans of who isn’t.