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Jacoby Ellsbury: What Will the Boston Red Sox Do?

November 4th, 2013 at 10:39 AM
By Ron Juckett

The biggest decision the Boston Red Sox have heading into free agency is what to do with their own highly touted center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Ranked No. 2 on the free agent list for 2014, Ellsbury is about to get a large payday. Whether that haul of cash comes from the Red Sox or not is debatable.

A client of Scott Boras—considered by most teams as a giant pain in the rear for his high-ball requests—Ellsbury hopes to take home a deal roughly in the seven-year time frame for around $140 million.

That is quite the pay raise from the $9 million Boston shelled out for 2013.

As part of the collective bargaining agreement, the Red Sox are likely to offer a qualifying offer for one year and $14.1 million. Expect Ellsbury to decline that quickly.

If he signs elsewhere, Boston will get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2014 Draft from whomever signs him.

With this being a weak free agent class, some team will give Ellsbury and Boras an offer that comes close to what they are looking for.

The New York Yankees, after a disappointing 2013 campaign, have told anybody and everybody that the vaults have been re-opened and they are ready to splash the cash.

However, Robinson Cano, the best player on the Yankees, is also a free agent and wants a 10-year deal in the neighborhood of $300 million.

As the Los Angeles Dodgers have said they are not going to go after him, and with the Red Sox fully content with Dustin Pedroia playing second, how many teams are going to compete with the Yankees on such a big deal?

Do the Yankees sign both and find money for a starting pitcher they desperately need as well? Likely not.

A three-time stolen base leader in the American League and a solid glove in the field, the Red Sox would like to keep their leadoff hitter.

Aside from the Yankees, however, the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners are also likely to take a run at Ellsbury. The Rangers are flush with cash from their television deal while Ellsbury, an Oregon native, would be playing on his hometown team with Seattle.

Seattle’s Safeco Field’s spacious outfield plays well with his range and speed game. The Rangers are a team always in contention and Texas has no state income tax, certainly not the case in Massachusetts.

Ellsbury has two world championships under his belt already. If playing for a contender was his biggest motivation, he would have signed an extension already to stay.

Reportedly, however, he rejected two offers in the past for extensions, a pair of five-year deals that would have paid him $100 million and $85 million respectively.

Boston would love for him to sign a deal in that range. Ellsbury has earned his money but, at 30, they are leery of having Ellsbury under contract for $20 million a season at 37.

Ellsbury has also missed large portions of two of his six seasons with injuries. $20 million is too much money to be sitting in a clubhouse whirlpool.

With no shortage of options, Ellsbury is going to find a suitor who will meet his needs. Although all sides would like that to be Boston, they cannot do a deal over five years, especially with Jon Lester’s extension coming this winter.

The choice is his.

*All statistics and contract information courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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Tags: Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, MLB

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