The 2008 American League Most Valuable Player is now under contract with the Boston Red Sox for years to come, and both the player and the ball club couldn’t be happier.
“I’m extremely excited,” Dustin Pedroia said at a Fenway Park press conference this afternoon confirming that the popular and remarkably productive second baseman had signed a six-year, $40.5 million contract extension. “I definitely wanted to be here a long time and help the Red Sox win. Today it happened, [and] hopefully the next six years we can win some championships.”
Pedroia will receive a $1.5 million signing bonus and a $1.5 million salary in 2009. He will be paid $3.5 million in 2010, $5.5 million in ’11, $8 million in ’12, and $10 million in both 2013 and ’14. The club option for ’15 is for $11 million, or the Sox can buy him out for $500,000.
The 25-year-old, who batted .326 with 17 home runs and 83 RBI en route to winning the MVP in his second major league season, said signing the deal was an easy decision.
“My first thought about the whole thing was I play for the best team in the major leagues,” Pedroia said. “Who wouldn’t want to play for the Boston Red Sox? We’re going to have an opportunity to win every single year. The fans are the best, the city embraces their team. So why not? It fits.”
Pedroia, 25, led the AL in hits (213), runs (118) and doubles (54), and also won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, becoming just the eighth player in league history to take all three honors in one season. He also became the third player to win an MVP award the season after being named rookie of the year.
With his hard-nosed style, Pedroia established himself as one of the Red Sox’ leaders on the field and off, a characteristic general manager Theo Epstein acknowledged during the press conference.
“Dustin plays hard, first and foremost, all the time,” Epstein said. “He plays to win. He plays for his teammates, not for himself. He’s the type of player, he’s not motivated by money, he’s motivated by championships. He’s prepared, he takes care of himself, he’s professional . . . he’s kind of everything you look for.
“He’s a leader in the clubhouse, I think he’s a leader on the field with the way he approaches the game, and he’s really talented and helps us win every night. . . . If we had 25 guys like this we’d be in good shape. I don’t think we’d be the Red Sox right now without Dustin Pedroia.”
For the Red Sox, the significant point is that they bought at least two of Pedroia’s free agent years for $10 million per season. If the club exercises the ’15 option, they will effectively have signed Pedroia, who is eligible for free agency in ’12, to a three-year deal worth $31 million. It is one of the four biggest non-arbitration contracts ever, along with those signed by Florida’s Hanley Ramirez, the Mets’ David Wright and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun.
The benefit for Pedroia is that he guarantees himself a good deal of money now and gains a great measure of long-term security, though he conceded he probably could have made more money had he eventually gone to free agency. He said that wasn’t a consideration in his mind.
“I know that if I would have gone year to year, yes, I would probably have made a lot more money. I understand that without a doubt,” Pedroia said. “But I’m here in a place that I love, my family loves it. They treat us unbelievable. It’s like a family here. I’m happy with this. I’m extremely excited, my wife’s excited, my parents, they’re ecstatic. . . . I want to be here. I want to play for the Red Sox and I don’t want to play for anybody else. So it just seemed right to do something.”
If the Red Sox exercise the seventh-year option, Pedroia’s contract will be worth $51 million, an average of just under $7.3 million per season. Without the option, the deal is worth an average of $6.75 million, which becomes Pedroia’s average annual salary from 2009 to 2014. That $6.75 million is the number which will be used in the formula to determine the Sox’ payroll for luxury tax purposes.
The option will increase to $13 million if Pedroia wins another MVP at any point over the next six years. Anytime he finishes in the top three of the voting, his option would increase by $1 million each time, capping at $13 million. At most, barring award incentives, the deal could be worth $53 million over seven years.
Pedroia, who owns a .313 batting average with 27 home runs and 140 RBI in 327 games with the Red Sox, will be 32 at the end of the deal. He was typically confident regarding how the contract will play out.
“I’m going to be the player I am for longer than 32, I can tell you that for sure,” Pedroia said. “I saw how long the deal was and I was excited about it. That means I get to be here with the place I love for the next six or seven years. That’s the way I looked at it.”
The Globe’s Amalie Benjamin and Tony Massarotti contributed to this report.