With the regular season winding down and before you know it the off-season, I think it’s a good time to look at Jacoby Ellsbury who becomes a free agent after the season. Ellsbury who just turned 30 last week and is represented by super agent Scott Boras is probably the 2nd best hitter in this years free agent class trailing only Robinson Cano. Ellsbury has been a great Red Sox when he has been in the lineup.
However being a west coast kid and having been through some drama in the past in Boston and surely with the kind of contract he is expected to get in free agency I believe both parties between Ellsbury and Boston will move on this off-season.
When healthy Ellsbury is a dynamic leadoff hitter who is also a very good center fielder. I don’t think any team should expect Ellsbury to come close to his 2011 Home Run output of 32 (has not broken double digits any other year) but he is still an excellent leadoff hitter. This season Ellsbury line in 131 games is 8HR, 52RBI, 89R, 52SB, .299 Avg, .355 OBP with 31 doubles and 8 triples. However Ellsbury is currently shutdown with a fractured foot so he will probably windup missing close to 30 games this season. On top of that he is just turned 30 and relying on his legs for his game, Ellsbury has had a career where many season he missed a lot of games. In his 6 full seasons including this year he will only have broken 150 games played twice and he is just getting older. But when he is in the lineup he can be an immense player for any team.
So if Boston is going to walk away who would be in the market for Ellsbury? Texas has deep pockets and has just lost out to a number of players in the past and he will be a great catalyst for the Ranger lineup which needs a boost to contend with the big teams in the AL. How about a reuniting with his old GM Theo Epstein with the Cubs? However since the Cubs are in a rebuild and probably a couple of years away from contending for at least a wild card is Ellsbury the right fit? The Giants even though they have Angel Pagan could move Pagan to left and have Ellsbury in center. That would be a great 1-2 in their lineup in that big ballpark. Remember Giants have a lot money coming off the books this year with Lincecum and Zito’s contracts ending. Also remember like I said above Ellsbury is from the west coast. I believe the Nationals are going to fall short and Dernard Span has been a big disappointment and I would not be surprised to see the Nationals throw their wallet around for Ellsbury. Finally to me a great fit for Ellsbury would be the Mets with their ballpark and market. However the Mets have been burned by so many long term contracts I believe given what it will take to sign Ellsbury and his injury history they will not be serious contenders.
So what is going to take to sign Ellsbury? Good question. Given his age and his injury history but also considering he is a fantastic ballplayer my guess is someone will give Ellsbury at least a 5 year deal at 15 Million per. Ellsbury and Boras will be shooting for upper teens per year and get as close as possible to a 7 year deal. Will someone bite on that? They shouldn’t but remember it only take one team. Ellsbury would be a risky move on a 4 year deal in my opinion but one worth taking I believe. Any deal that goes beyond that and that team is playing with fire and will get burned big time.
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CJ Lizza – NL King