Pedro Martinez is searching for work. Maybe he can find a job in Boston.
The Red Sox could use a pitcher with his skills and experience.
Sure, Pedro?s no spring chicken. Yes, he?s lost a few miles on his fastball. And of course, there are some bittersweet memories.
But the 38-year-old right-hander still can pitch. In nine regular-season starts with the Phillies in 2009, Pedro went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA. He was 0-2 in three playoff starts, but posted a 3.71 ERA. Take away the performance of World Series MVP Hideki Matsui (4-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs off Pedro), and those postseason pitching numbers would look even better.
Pedro could be a versatile weapon for the Red Sox. Instead of putting him in the starting rotation or throwing him in the bullpen, manager Terry Francona could do both. Need a spot starter? Give the ball to Pedro. Looking for a long reliever? Call Pedro. Want a set-up man for an inning or two to get to Jonathan Papelbon? Pedro. He?s already reinvented himself on the mound, so why not invent a new role for him: "re-starter." Half reliever, half starter.
This hybrid could impact baseball the way the sixth man revolutionized basketball. Pedro would be the ideal candidate to set the trend. A pioneer and trailblazer by nature, he could show what is possible with a little ingenuity, flexibility and open-mindedness.
It?s tough to think of a better place for Pedro to "re-start" than Boston. He could finish his career with the team that helped him become a legend and leave the game by giving something valuable back to the game.
Once other teams see Pedro having success at navigating between the rotation and bullpen on a regular basis, they would be willing to give it a shot. Before long, re-starters could be part of the game?s evolution. Just as everyone now has closers and middle relievers, one day, every team might have a re-starter — a jack-of-all-trades pitcher.
To add Pedro to the staff wouldn?t cost much for the Red Sox. He signed a prorated one-year, $2 million deal with the Phillies last season, and another one-year deal in the $1.5 million to $2 million range, plus incentives, wouldn?t be unreasonable.
Signing Pedro would be different than rolling the dice with John Smoltz or Brad Penny. There are no question marks about Pedro?s health. He showed he's healthy last season, pitched well in October and would be ready to throw on the first day of spring training.
The biggest stumbling block would be letting bygones be bygones and forgetting about the last time the Red Sox and Pedro Martinez attempted to negotiate a contract, when Pedro became a free agent after the 2004 season. To say it didn?t go well would be like saying great white sharks have sharp teeth. The Red Sox thought they had a done deal when they offered him three years, $40.5 million, and a $13.5 million option for 2008. Some believed Pedro used that offer as leverage to get the Mets to give him a more lucrative deal — four years and $54 million guaranteed.
That was then, and now is no time to hold any hard feelings. The Pedro-Red Sox story doesn?t have to have an unhappy ending.
The future Hall of Famer was a larger-than-life character during his first go-round in Boston, and he remains one of the most compelling figures in sports.
Factor in Pedro?s leadership, comic-relief personality, 18 seasons of baseball knowledge and ability to still get big league hitters (not named Hideki Matsui) out – and you have an undervalued free agent.
The Red Sox front office has no trouble separating personal feelings from baseball decisions. If a move will help the team win ballgames, the Red Sox will make it, no matter the player or the team?s history with that player.
Bringing Pedro Martinez back to Boston makes sense — for more than sentimental reasons.