Jacoby Ellsbury has been one of the Red Sox’ most important players this season. Watching him walk away in free agency would be difficult, which is why the Sox might make an effort to re-sign the speedy outfielder, even if they ultimately come up short.
According the CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, the Red Sox “have a keen interest” in re-signing Ellsbury, who is set to become a free agent this offseason. Heyman also reports, however, that “Red Sox-connected people” aren’t necessarily optimistic that Boston will retain Ellsbury if the center fielder’s market goes well into the nine-figure arena.
Ellsbury has enjoyed a terrific 2013 season. The 29-year-old is hitting .299 with eight homers, 52 RBIs and an MLB-best 52 stolen bases while serving as a catalyst atop the Red Sox’ lineup. The success figures to land Ellsbury a big payday, and his agent, Scott Boras, thinks that the 2011 AL MVP runner-up deserves in excess of $100 million.
Boras reportedly thinks that B.J. Upton — who signed a five-year, $72.5 million contract with the Braves last offseason — isn’t a fair comparison when it comes to Ellsbury. In fact, he thinks that Carl Crawford — who is in the midst of a seven-year, $142 million contract — pales in comparison as well.
“Two things separate Ellsbury [from Crawford]. Carl Crawford was never proven as a leadoff hitter, and Carl Crawford is not a center fielder,” Boras told CBSSports.com. “They are two different animals. It’s not a consideration because he’s a corner outfielder. Just think if Carl Crawford could play center field.”
Boras reportedly pointed out Ellsbury’s proven success in Boston and his 2011 power surge as differences between the two outfielders as well.
We’ll have to wait and see just how much the Red Sox value Ellsbury. They made it clear last offseason that they wanted to stay away from huge, long-term commitments, and Ben Cherington even said that signing Dustin Pedroia to a eight-year, $110 million extension this year was an exception. Boras thinks that the Red Sox might need to alter their strategy, though.
“Free agency is like the Navy,” Boras reportedly said. “You can have a number of mid-range missiles, but they only work as long as you have the aircraft carrier to put them on.”
Boras clearly thinks that Ellsbury is an “aircraft carrier” that the Red Sox can build around.