Marco Scutaro got a nice birthday present today, as the Red Sox exercised his 2012 contract option, worth 6 million.
Scutaro hit a career-best .299 (118-for-395), the second-highest mark among American League shortstops with at least 400 plate appearances. He also set a career high with a .423 slugging percentage in 113 games.
Scutaro finished the season with 59 runs, 54 RBI, and seven home runs. He walked 38 times as well. While the Red Sox were in the midst of a historic September collapse, Scutaro had by far his best month of the season. In September, Scutaro hit a whopping .387 (36-93) with 28 runs, 21 RBI, 12 doubles, and two home runs. His on-base percentage was .438 and slugging percentage .581.
Statistically speaking, it was the best season for a Red Sox shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra in 2003.
In 263 games with the Red Sox since he signed with the club as a free agent on December 4, 2009, Scutaro has batted .284 (292-for-1,027) with 64 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs, 110 RBI, 151 runs and 91 walks.
Scutaro got to the majors late, breaking in with the Mets at age 26 in 2002 and spending two years there as a utility infielder. He was claimed off waivers by the A's after the 2003 season and spent four productive years in Oakland, bouncing around the infield and outfield and hitting around .260 each season.
He finally became a regular in 2008 after being traded to Toronto. He played 145 games at various positions in '08, but spent '09 as the Blue Jays' regular shortstop and hit .282 with 35 doubles, 12 homers and 60 RBI. He was rewarded at the end of that season with a free-agent contract from the Red Sox.
Exercising the option of Scutaro is the first major roster move made by new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. Eight members of the 2011 Red Sox team have filed for free agency, so Cherington has many more decisions to make regarding the team make-up.