If Boston doesn't make the playoffs, and if Wakefield is not used out of the bullpen over the final three games, he'll enter his 17th offseason with the Red Sox as a 45-year-old without a contract.
And if the organization chooses not to bring back the great knuckleballer, or if he chooses to walk into the sunset, his career will have ended on an odd note.
Wakefield's final win was his 200th, which came on his eighth try and then preceded two straight losses, both in the heat of a desperate playoff push. His last start of 2011 gave him 180 career losses, tied for 73rd on the all-time list.
Those are nice round numbers. It remains to be seen what sort of numbers will be presented at the bargaining table, if there's ever a meeting on that front. Wakefield made $4 million each year from 2006-09, the last three being one-year club options.
He was signed to a two-year deal before the 2010 season that gave him a base salary of $3.5 million last year and $1.5 million this year. Performance bonuses have pushed his payout in '11 to over $2 million. If a renewal is arranged, the base salary would probably be in the $1-1.5 million range.
Given Boston's desperate need for pitching depth this year, having someone who can eat 100-plus innings for that type of a salary would be nice. That may leave the decision up to Wakefield, who remains six wins shy of tying the Red Sox all-time record for victories.
If he chooses to walk away, Wakefield's last pitch will have resulted in an Alex Rodriguez RBI single. Maybe that alone will give him motivation to try to come back.