Who Wants Jacoby Ellsbury?

In case you didn’t know, Jacoby Ellsbury will become a free agent after this season. It’s presumed that he will take his services to the open market, and the Red Sox may not have much of an inside track on his services. Whether they do or not, there will be no shortage of teams who want the Madras, Ore., native. Earlier this week, Ken Rosenthal suggested the Mariners may be in the market for him. This got me thinking just how deep the pool of suitors may be. So let’s take a trip through Major League Baseball and reason through it, shall we?

First, a quick overview about Ellsbury’s season. He’s doing fairly well. He currently has the fourth-best WAR among center fielders and 15th-best among position players. It’s been reassuring for those who catch their breath every time Ellsbury grimaces. It was easy to write him off again in ’12 as an injury plagued guy who can’t play in pain. But even with the poor ’12, he has still been one of the 10-15 best position position players in the game since the start of 2011. A lot of his value is tied to base running (he easily has the best BsR in the game this year) and defense (in the top 30), but his bat has still been above average. And since he is showing no signs of slowing down and is hitting free agency heading into his age-30 season, he should be highly desirable — especially since he will be a “young” 30. During the wild card era (’95-present), 170 qualified players have compiled more plate appearances than has Ellsbury by the end of their 20’s. Ellsbury’s 3,107 PA are less than half of Alex Rodriguez, who put up more than 7,000 PA before his 20’s ended.

Who won’t want him

As desirable as Ellsbury is, there will be some teams that just won’t need or want him. The Angels are set with Mike Trout/Peter Bourjos, and the Pirates are set with Andrew McCutchen. Colby Rasmus’ improvement this year probably precludes the Blue Jays’ involvement, unless they want to waive Melky Cabrera and move Rasmus to left field (for the sake of argument here, we’re going to consider Ellsbury a center fielder only — you don’t swing the big stick in free agency so that you can switch positions). The Brewers are good with Carlos Gomez and the O’s are good with Adam Jones. Jason Kubel probably won’t be back in Arizona, but with Gerardo Parra, Adam Eaton and Cody Ross, their outfield is probably going to be full. Detroit is good with Austin Jackson, and the Rockies are good with Dexter Fowler. The Braves, Dodgers and Padres may not be good with B.J. Upton, Matt Kemp and Cameron Maybin, respectively, but they are stuck with them. The Indians are set with Michael Bourn, as are the Rays with Desmond Jennings. Jon Jay has been not great in St. Louis this season — particularly on defense — but chances are they’ll stick with him. That leaves us with 16 teams, who may or may not have varying degrees of interest.

We like him, but we’re either not in the right position to win or we’re too cheap

The Twins, White Sox and Marlins qualify here, and the Astros probably do as well. I’d give a little pause to the Astros, because I think that when they come they’re going to come fast, but that still probably is no sooner than 2015. Down to 12 teams.

We could make it work

Boston — Yeah, the Sox want Ellsbury back, but it’s a little complicated. Re-signing him means Jackie Bradley has to move to left, where Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava already are. If Mike Napoli doesn’t re-sign, Nava could move to first, which would leave JBJ and Gomes in a nifty little platoon. But 1) the Sox probably want to bring Napoli back as well, since he’s been pretty good this year and 2) Bradley may not be deserving of the platoon treatment. Yes, his star has dimmed a touch thanks to his false start in April, but that didn’t stop Marc Hulet or Keith Law from putting him in their midseason top 50 prospect rankings. GM Ben Cherington isn’t letting Ellsbury go without a fight, but there are some moving parts here.

Kansas CityDavid Lough has been a nice surprise, but a 27-year-old rookie with a 100 wRC+ shouldn’t be guaranteed a job. Lorenzo Cain could slide over to accommodate Ellsbury and give the Royals one of the best defensive outfields in the game, but with more pop than they currently have with Lough out there. Ellsbury may be a little rich for KC’s blood, but perhaps being part of a pennant chase plus the added pressure to take advantage of the James Shields window will get them in the market. If they can’t land Robinson Cano, that is.

NY YankeesCurtis Granderson is a free agent. Maybe the Yankees want him back, maybe they don’t. Maybe they want Brett Gardner to play center field, but maybe Gardner would happily shift back to left field if it meant stealing Ellsbury from their division rival. One thing is for certain — New York needs to do better with their outfield than they have this season. The Yankees’ 92 wRC+ ranks 23rd in the game and is eight percent worse than the Mets, who were supposed to have the worst outfield ever this season. And spare me the sermons about the Yankees’ newfound fiscal responsibility.

Philadelphia — The Phillies should probably be rebuilding, but general manager Ruben Amaro doesn’t do five-year plans, and after not making a splashy move last offseason, he might be itching to turn the crazy up a few notches this offseason. He’s certainly not taking the blame for the team’s underperformance, as he displayed today by dismissing manager Charlie Manuel. Ben Revere would have to move to right field, and that wouldn’t be ideal, but in all honesty his offensive production this year has been just as good as Delmon Young’s was and John Mayberry’s has been. And Revere plays better defense.

San Francisco — The Giants should probably be rebuilding as well, but with Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Hunter Pence, Ryan Vogelsong and Javier Lopez potentially coming off the books this winter, San Fran may have some cash with which to play. Angel Pagan is still in the fold, but he could slide over to left to replace Andres Torres, who is hopefully taking his .277 wOBA, making like a tree and getting out of there.

TexasAlex Rios will be back, but Nelson Cruz and David Murphy are going to be free agents. Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry have been a good platoon in center, they could also be a good platoon in left field, or could be good fourth and fifth outfielders. The wrinkle here is what the Rangers decide to with their middle infield logjam. If Ian Kinsler or Jurickson Profar is moved to the outfield that would likely extinguish any interest in Ellsbury, but if they don’t then he could end up a good fit for them. The Rangers steal plenty of bases, but their -8.2 BsR ranks 27th in the game.

WashingtonDenard Span is under contract for 2014, but he has been so bad this year that maybe the Nationals want to make him a highly-paid fourth outfielder. It makes a modicum of sense. For starters, they’re loaded. Second, there have been past rumblings that general manager Mike Rizzo has coveted Ellsbury. Finally, Jayson Werth gets hurt a lot, and while Werth is better than Span against right-handed pitching, Span can at least be average against righties and could spell Werth against them to keep him fresh and clean. Probably not going to happen, but I could see it.

We have offers at the ready

Chicago Cubs — The Cubs are tied down to exactly zero outfielders next season, so signing Ellsbury may be something that they’re interested in. They have a club option on David DeJesus, but the buyout ($1.5 million) certainly isn’t prohibitive. The Cubs may need another year before they’re ready to spring on the scene, but the 2015 free-agent list has exactly zero marquee outfielders on it, so the time may be this offseason rather than next. And since the Cubs brain trust is the same one that was in place when Ellsbury came to Boston, maybe they are champing at the bit to get him.

Cincinnati — Is Billy Hamilton really good enough to be a major league starter? Does Dusty Baker even want to find out? Color me skeptical on that score. Shin-Soo Choo is a free agent, and while the Reds may want him back, the Choo as center field experiment would be best served if it ended after one season. There is some urgency here, as Baker will be in the last year of his contract and isn’t going to manage forever — he’s 64 this year. In addition, the core of this team isn’t getting any younger, and two of their best pitchers — Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos — could be free agents at the conclusion of the 2014 season. And the National League Central waters aren’t going to be any easier to navigate next season.

NY Mets — Many believe the Mets are still too far away to compete, and they may be right. But as with the Cubs, the same principle about 2015 free agents applies, so if the Mets are going to drop a bomb, Ellsbury is probably the pick to click if they want to do so via free agency. Juan Lagares and Marlon Byrd have played well, but Lagares can slide over and Byrd is old enough that it would be unwise for them to hitch their wagon to him long-term.

Oakland — Yes, that Oakland. If I was a betting man, I’d say the A’s are going to pick up Coco Crisp’s option this winter. But then, if I was a betting man, I would have (and did say) that the A’s were going to pick up Stephen Drew’s option last winter, and they didn’t do that, so … ya. Covelli had himself a nice little April, but it’s been mostly downhill since, including a 29 wRC+ in July. He’s four years older than Ellsbury, his best season was nearly a decade ago, and that best season would probably only be Ellsbury’s third-best season. The A’s usually don’t generally splurge on players, but they are in an unique position to do so this winter. According to Cot’s, they only have $22 million committed for next season before accounting for their 12 arbitration players. Of the 12, only Jed Lowrie and Josh Reddick figure to see significant raises. If they come out of those cases at around $50-55 million in payroll, there should be plenty left over for Ellsbury. Their only significant free agents to be are Grant Balfour and Bartolo Colon, and replacements for them are ready, willing and cheap.

Seattle — As Rosenthal mentioned, Seattle makes plenty of sense for Ellsbury. The soft factors may be overblown (is living one state away from where you grew up really that big of a deal? He’d probably still get on a plane to get home.), but the dearth of quality talent in Seattle’s outfield is not. Michael Saunders’ second-half surge makes him a likely candidate to stick in one spot, but the other two should essentially be up for grabs. Plugging in Ellsbury could actually give the M’s a lethal offense. Their 100 wRC+ thus far in the second half ranks fifth in the American League, and it has been built on the backs of players who should be back (Kendrys Morales being the only question mark) and may keep improving as well. And that mark is even with Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse and Endy Chavez stinking up the joint.

So there you have it — as many as 12 teams may want Ellsbury this winter. Rest assured, it’s going to be an interesting winter for Ellsbury and Boras.



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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com. He has written for The Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.


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Joel
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Joel
2 years 11 months ago

Ellsbury makes the most sense for the Mariners, which is why I expect him to re-sign with the Yankees.

I also don’t expect the Red Sox to re-sign Napoli if they can help it, given his prolonged slump.

Joel
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Joel
2 years 11 months ago

I meant, “sign” with the Yankees.

tbjfan
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tbjfan
2 years 11 months ago

You’re one of the few people that bother to type “re-sign” instead or “resign”, so I’ll give you props for that.

Eric
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Eric
2 years 11 months ago

grammar bitch

Joe Veno
Member
2 years 11 months ago

I think if the Mariners sign Ellsbury, they will still finish in 4th. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me unless they are going to compound it with other signings.

Jake
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Jake
2 years 11 months ago

As far as position players go, they would only need to pair it with one other signing. A right handed, power hitting, right fielder.

CF Ellsbury
3B Seager
DH Morales
RF Power Bat
1B Smoak
C Zunino
SS Miller
2B Franklin
LF Saunders

I don’t love the idea of signing a 30 year old, whose value comes from his legs… but Seattle really needs a lead off hitter and a center fielder. Seattle might have to sign Ellsbury to a deal similar to Washington signing Werth. Ellsbury may never live up to the $100+ million contract, but it probably won’t be a complete disaster (Soriano, Wells, etc)
An organization can handle carrying one reasonably bad contract, especially with as many players still on original contracts/arbitration years as the team is currently employing.

KDL
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KDL
2 years 11 months ago

As a Nats fan I was glad that Soriano signed that deal with Not-the-Nats, but…
I think Soriano gets a LOT of undue grief. Real back of the envelop stuff…but thus far he’s “earned” about $100 million of that contract with a season and 6 weeks to go. He’s going to end up not earning the whole thing, obviously. But it seems weird to talk about “horrible” contracts when we’re talking about a guy who stands a really good chance of earning about $110 million of a $136 contract.

Jake
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Jake
2 years 11 months ago

Fair enough. Any player who is offered and signed for more than they are worth, gets a lot more grief then they deserve. It’s not their job to perform up to the contract. It’s the GM’s job to sign people to what they deserve. I think Soriano’s contract needs to be in context though.
A $136M contract in 2007 is very different than one today. Soriano’s deal is bailed out by the influx of cash from TV deals for MLB teams. It’s also aided by Soriano and the fact that his performance did not completely drop off and he has remained a relevant MLB player. Not to mention he put in a ton of work on his defense.
The fact remains, it took way too many years for Soriano and his contract to become tradeable for me to not see this as a terrible deal, especially considering the state of the Cubs during the Soriano years. The Cubs paid way too much money to Soriano during years that they were breaking the team down to rebuild.

The Nats overpaid Werth, but they did it at a time when they had young talent on the big league roster, as well as loads of talent knocking on the door. That is where the Mariners are right now. Lots of young position players on the 25 and some excellent pitchers on their way. That is the most ideal time for a franchise to offer one or two overpays. Hopefully Seattle can convince a couple players to endure the marine layer.

Nathaniel Dawson
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Nathaniel Dawson
2 years 11 months ago

That would be pairing it with TWO other signings. Morales will be a free agent this off-season.

Johnny
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Johnny
2 years 11 months ago

I think Choo is a better fit for Mariners than Ellsbury. He would require less years and money. Not to mention he isn’t as injury prone and plays decent enough RF.

Chris
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Chris
2 years 11 months ago

I think you’re lineup is miss-ordered, but its basically on the right track. I think this is an opportunity for Seattle to make 2 signings, much like the Indians last year. Losing 1 draft pick sucks, but if the plan is to double that up and sign 2 players at once and lose a 2nd round pick, that makes more sense in today’s baseball. Its a heck of a lot better than signing 1 player per year and losing multiple 1st rounders.

Seattle also could sneak into that top 10 making this a much more intriguing proposition. However don’t forget, Seattle squeaked out that extra 2nd round pick in the competitive balance lottery or whatever the call it.

As for Morales, I’m 90% possitive that Seattle will offer him arb, giving them the upper hand in resigning him or they could recoup a draft pick they may lose if Morales goes else where.

At any rate, I think this is the most important off-season for Seattle in a long time. There’s enough young talent at the big leagues that are performing well, and their service clocks are now ticking. I don’t think Jack gets another off-season if the Ms don’t at least have a winning record in 2014, they may even need to at least contend for a playoff spot into Sept. Can’t believe he’s already been there 5 years.

Balthazar
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Balthazar
2 years 11 months ago

I’m not that thrilled with the Mariners going after Ellsbury. His D isn’t that great, and Safeco is a place where you want a plus guy in CF. I’m not a fan of a guy whose value is mostly in his legs, as the man above said. There is also the false premise that ‘the Mariners need a leadoff hitter’—they have one in Brad Miller, who is an on-base machine, and an outstanding base stealer. Miller’s numbers are only just good this year, but he’s a rookie who will get better. I strongly suspect that Brad Miller will have better career production and higher peak value than Jacoby Ellsbury too, so the idea of putting his production in the bottom half of the batting order is coconuts. (And yes, I’m aware that Ellsbury has higher present value.)

I’m much more interested in the Mariners signing Shin-Soo Choo, and putting him in RF. Choo is a plus defensive corner outfielder with a cannon arm, gets on base at a superb clip, will give some HRs but hits a ton of doubles also. He likely won’t be much more expensive than Ellsbury, if he costs more at all. He gets hurt less. His production base is broader. Basically, the Ms can sign him and have RF taken care of for the next three years. Choo replaces Ibanez in the Mariners lineup, except that Choo is a far better player.

That done, yes, the Mariners need a long term CFer. They will likely have to _trade_ for one, which I see as the third offseason priority after a) tabbing Morales and going for the multi-year deal, and b) signing Choo. Acquiring an all-around talent for CF would likely be too costly in talent given up, so a glove first guy with hit tool upside would be the target, in my view. Basically an Ellsbury lite, at far less money, with the bucks going to Choo instead. Saunders then gets the bulk of the time in LF. The Ms then focus on in-system development and size up the trade market for another outfielder in late 2014 or row 2014 offseason.

All of this the ‘wither Jacoby?’ bandyage generated by media faces at other venues looking to chatter up their hit rates is likely moot, since Boston has a great shot a a Series this year, and given deep post-season is a nice place to be I don’t see Boston and Ellsbury failing to come to a deal. Ellsbury is going to get signed and stay in Boston in my view—but at market rate rather than a discount. At least Ellsbury has established some kind of consistent performance value so that both parties have an idea what they are doing the deal for.

Joof
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Joof
2 years 11 months ago

Is Ellsbury really so bad that signing him will drop the Mariners a place in the standings?

KMiB
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2 years 11 months ago

Latos is only signed through 2014, but he’ll be in his final arb-year in Cincy and under team control through 2015; Homer Bailey, on the other hand, will be in his last arb year in 2014 and can be a free agent afterwards.

TangoAlphaLima
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TangoAlphaLima
2 years 11 months ago

The Royals should have been in the “We like him, but we’re either not in the right position to win or we’re too cheap” category. They’re definitely too cheap to sign Ellsbury to a long-term deal. All the moves they’ve made recently are for the short-term (1 season on Santana, 2 on Shields, 3 on Guthrie, etc.). They’re too afraid to commit long-term.

Ruki Motomiya
Member
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 11 months ago

There’s no reason for the Royals to commit past Gordon/Butler’s contracts.

Charlie
Member
Charlie
2 years 11 months ago

Singing Ellsbury makes too much sense for the Cubs to pass on him. As stated, with no money tied down to the OF, and truly no OFers knocking on the door of being a quality MLB player, Ellsbury should garner the attention of Theo and Co. Signing Ellsbury alone makes the Cubs an interesting team to follow in 2014.

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
2 years 11 months ago

Yep, another Soriano like contract debacle is exactly what the Cubs need. Of course Soriano actually had a good injury history and much more power when he signed at age 30. Signing a speed first, defense second 30 year old CF to a 6 year deal in the 9 figure range is almost certainly not going to end well. Did we not learn a thing from Carl Crawford? Do these contract ever work out favorably?

KDL
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KDL
2 years 11 months ago

I wish I could delete this from above…it’s more pertinent here.

As a Nats fan I was glad that Soriano signed that deal with Not-the-Nats, but…
I think Soriano gets a LOT of undue grief. Real back of the envelop stuff…but thus far he’s “earned” about $100 million of that contract with a season and 6 weeks to go. He’s going to end up not earning the whole thing, obviously. But it seems weird to talk about “horrible” contracts when we’re talking about a guy who stands a really good chance of earning about $110 million of a $136 contract.

Jake
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Jake
2 years 11 months ago

Commented above, but to add this discussion. The $110/$136 is a bit misleading. The Cubs are now only on the hook for $126M, but he is no longer earning value for them. $126M for 18.9WAR over 6.5 years is not good for Chicago.
Hindsight is 20/20, but if you were a GM and you had the chance to give $126M for a guy to produce under 3WAR/year for 6.5 years, you wouldn’t consider that a horrible deal?

Jake
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Jake
2 years 11 months ago

Add to that, knowing he would be completely untradeable for those 6.5 years.

Steve
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Steve
2 years 11 months ago

Careful. Soriano’s contract was a mistake, but most have faith that Theo–if he signs Ellsbury–will make the terms more favorable to the organization. A couple things about that comparison: Ellsbury is a much better defender than Soriano ever was… he is also much better on the bases than Soriano ever was. Power aside, Ellsbury is the better player. Even in a down year, Ellsbury can still win you games (as evidenced by his 1 WAR in only 300 PAs in his down year last year). I think most Cubs fans will rejoice if Ellsbury makes a deal in Chicago. Unless the terms are unbelievably stupid, I think it’s a win/win.

Carl
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Carl
2 years 11 months ago

The Yankees have Wells, Soriano and Ichiro coming back (sigh) and Gardner is not going anywhere, so rule them out, esp if Granderson re-signs.

For the Mets, Lagares is the best defensive CFer in baseball, so signing a CFer at a premium price and moving him to a corner makes little sense.

SKob
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2 years 11 months ago

Why does it feel like every center fielder gets referred to as ‘the best defensive CF in baseball’?

Zen Madman
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

Well, he’s the best defensive CF playing for the Mets. :p

Jake W.
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Jake W.
2 years 11 months ago

29 teams’ fans think that they have the best defensive center fielder, but even the most delusional Reds fan agrees that Choo is horrible.

olethros
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olethros
2 years 11 months ago

I highly doubt you’d find a Cardinals fan willing to say that about Jon Jay. Or a Jays fan about Rasmus, come to think of it.

BurleighGrimes
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BurleighGrimes
2 years 11 months ago

It is way too soon to crown Lagares the best defensive centerfielder in baseball, although his fielding numbers to date have been eye-popping/elite. It’s true, however, that virtually all of his value comes/will come from his defense so if the Mets do sign Ellsbury I can’t imagine Lagares being more than a 4th outfielder/defensive replacement rather than sliding over to a corner outfield position.

Spike
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Spike
2 years 11 months ago

this. I know it’s going to be very popular to attach Ellsbury to the Mets but Lagares is starting to look like he has a future in CF there and so an OF corner is the bigger need for the Mets. Actually Grandy could be more prudent fit over there. Yanks most likely won’t bring him back since they now have some OF surplus as noted above. If the Yankees do get frisky in the OF, Choo is prob the more logical fit there.

Ellsbury seems a real fit for the Cubs, M’s and Reds.

Spike
Guest
Spike
2 years 11 months ago

and no loss of 1st rd pick for Cubbies.

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

I think you have the tea leaves in a good pattern in several respects, Spike. Granderson to the Mets makes _far_ more sense than Ellsbury. I could see the Reds going for Ellsbury—or not. They should have signed Michael Bourn this year, he would have been perfect and they looked to be trying for deep post-season coming into 2013. Still, a real CFer is a Reds priority.

Ellsbury is only a ‘good fit’ for the Mariners in two respects. First, they have only one signed outfielder who is stretched in CF as it is. Second, the ownership lusts for a marquee player to headline their marketing effort. I don’t see Ellsbury as a great fit in terms of production or defense, and he doesn’t seem enough of a marquee player to fit the later criteria all that well. And the Mariners have had some seriously bad recent experience with speed-first guys recently (See Figgins, Shun.) I doubt that _Jack Zd_ wants to sign a speed-first guy at all. So it comes down to whether ownership forces this one. I don’t see any kind of push for that, but wouldn’t make any predictions for the offseason. An ownership that was crazy enough to hunger for Josh Hamilton is liable to do any fool thing, and signing Ellsbury would not, in and of itself, even be a ‘fool thing,’ it just wouldn’t be a particularly great thing.

LongTimeFan
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LongTimeFan
2 years 11 months ago

Ellsbury is excellent fit for the Mets provided he’s willing to move to left field. Lagares is a stud CF who’s greatest value is there already establishing himself as a defensive wiz. Pulling him from there requires an additional starting outfielder above and beyond Ellsbury in that Lagares won’t do enough to justify him as corner starter.

The Mets are loaded with pitching talent and can readily compete in 2014 for playoff spot should they add the necessary pieces to the starting 8 including middle of the order bat, S.S., leadoff hitter, plus solidifying first base. A few key moves for the offense and this team will have the talent to soar. If the Mets could sign Ellsbury, trade for Tulo and keep Marlon Byrd, they’ll be in business.

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

As was mentioned above, Ellsbury is amongst 2-3 most salient free agents. He’s in the cat-bird seat, with a great deal of choice regarding where he goes. Why would a career CFer sign a deal to move to a less valuable position in favor of a rookie? That just doesn’t seem like a deal that gets done. And putting Ellsbury in CF and moving your guy over significantly discounts Lagares main value.

Then there is the issue of having two outfielders with essentially the same skill set, which in neither case comes with a high ISO. That isn’t ‘bad,’ but it isn’t what particularly seems like a ‘good fit,’ either. Sure, Ellsbury would make the Mets a better team. He would make most teams better. He’s just not the kind of ‘better’ which seems like a priority for the Mets to spend the kind of money it will take. —But if they want to throw that money at him leaving one less buyer for Choo, they can go right ahead.

mch38
Member
mch38
2 years 11 months ago

“Go west young man”

Caveman Jones
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Caveman Jones
2 years 11 months ago

I hadn’t thought that many teams would be interested, but when you explain it seems perfectly reasonable. I was thinking he’d get somewhere around 6/100 or 7/110, but if there really are that many suitors involved he could get expensive in a hurry.

I have a hard time seeing the Red Sox resigning Napoli though, but I very much expect them to try hard to resign Ellsbury. I can see them moving him to LF for sure to clear the path for JBJ next year. Napoli has surprised in the field both by the naked eye and UZR, but despite his above average offense he’s felt like a black hole in the line-up for some time now. If the Sox offer Drew a QO and he takes it, then I definitely cannot see Napoli back in any way, with 1B being used to fit Middlebrooks into the lineup with Drew and Bogaerts.

BoSox22
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BoSox22
2 years 11 months ago

I don’t see the Sox passing on Napoli to leave room for Middlebrooks in the lineup. Even if he continues to hit well through the rest of the year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is not in their long-term plan.

Jason B
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Jason B
2 years 11 months ago

Yarg. Middlebrooks maybe wasn’t quite ready this year, but can you imagine his numbers at 1B? He’d have a wRC+ of like negative infinity.

Bill
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Bill
2 years 11 months ago

that’s crazy talk. No way is anyone going to give ellsbury 6 or 7 years, let alone at that AAV. Fenway inflates BABIP due to small foul ground and bandbox dimensions, that’s why so many batting champs have come out of boston. Ellsbury is a .280/.335/.400 hitter out of fenway full time. His speed is nice, but Michael bourn didn’t get that money, so tell me why Ellsbury will?

Jason
Guest
Jason
2 years 11 months ago

The loss of a draft pick (currently #12) may be a stumbling block for the Mariners.

Choo
Member
2 years 11 months ago

I don’t know if that should prevent the Mariners from making a play – they have little in the way of impact OF talent. Also, the Mariners appear poised to sneak into bottom 10 and keep the pick, so there is that.

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp
2 years 11 months ago

I don’t know, I would have thought that being 7 games under .500 and going nowhere on July 31 might have been a stumbling block to holding on until the bitter end to all three of Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, and Oliver Perez.

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp
2 years 11 months ago

The loss of a draft pick is an issue, but it is a considerably smaller issue when you’re committing to a guy for that long to step in and be your best position player.

The loss of a draft pick is a huge issue when you’re gambling on a guy like Kyle Lohse.

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

The problem there, Prof., is the premise that Ellsbury would be the Mariners’ best player if signed. That is unlikely to be the case.

A real problem with going after Ellsbury is projecting him. He had a completely unbelievable 2011 which I wouldn’t bet a shaved farthing he repeats. Making any projection on that basis seems a set-up for expensive heart ache. Ellsbury seems on his way to a 6 win season this year. However, a lot of that is base running and defense, his run creation just isn’t impressive. There is the fact that most guys have a peak in their walk year, and drop back in their first contract year, regardless of what baseline they hold to going forward; it’s a very strong pattern. So nobody should be counting on a 6 win 2014 from Ellsbury. And outside of 2011 (huh?) and 2013 (O-K, nice), Ellsbury has struggled to be even a _3 win_ player.

My point is that a buyer should expect a couple of seasons where Ellsbury is looking up at a 3 win mark rather than passing it, and one of those seasons could very well be . . . 2014. Odds are Seager or Miller is the Mariners best player in 2014. And this is a lot of why I’d rather have Shin-Soo Choo. A sub-3 win Ellsbury is just not at all attractive given how he puts together value, but Choo can give you value in more ways, even if 2014 isn’t his best year, either.

And nobody in their right mind should sign Ellsbury to a 6-year deal. Just crazy for a guy whose performance has been all over the map, and who clearly gets dinged up. I most certainly don’t want my team bidding on anything over four, if that, and I suspect some fool will do more years, elsewhere.

Colin
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Colin
2 years 11 months ago

Nice little dig at the Royals with the “James Shields window” comment. I like it.

Ruki Motomiya
Member
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 11 months ago

Only problem is it should be the “Alex Gordon” window.

Aggie E
Guest
Aggie E
2 years 11 months ago

Leonys Martin has not “platooned” with Gentry in about 3 months

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp
2 years 11 months ago

The Cubs are likely the best fit here.

What odds will somebody give me that he ends up on an LA team, though, somehow?

Eddie
Guest
Eddie
2 years 11 months ago

Oakland and Cincy seem unlikely to me just because signing Ellsbury will cost those team’s their first round draft picks. The Cubs are a shoe in for a protected pick and the Mets and M’s are in the conversation. My money is on the Cubs.

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp
2 years 11 months ago

Oakland seems like a reach, and we should also note that they did not get a Comp A or Comp B pick in this year’s lottery.

FOX SPORTS 1
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FOX SPORTS 1
2 years 11 months ago

FOX SPORTS 1

JayT
Member
JayT
2 years 11 months ago

“And that mark [100 wRC+] is even with Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse and Endy Chavez stinking up the joint.”

Is Ibanez’s 125 wRC+ really hurting the team’s wRC+? Yeah, he’s given most of his hitting value back on defence, but when talking about the team’s hitting it seems weird to point him out.

Otherwise, I really liked this article. A part of me would like to see the Royals really go for it in the offseason, but I doubt that will happen.

Ian R.
Guest
Ian R.
2 years 11 months ago

Thing I Just Learned: Raul Ibanez is closing in on 300 home runs and 2000 hits. If he stays healthy, he should reach both marks by the end of the season.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if his 2000th hit were also his 300th home run?

405z06
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405z06
2 years 11 months ago

I am already yawning in anticipation of the possibility and his future induction into the Mariners HOF

Marcus A.
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Marcus A.
2 years 11 months ago

The 100 wRC+ mark is in the second half and Raul has been awful in the second half. His 125 wRC+ is fueled by a hot June and early July. Since the break he only has one dinger and he rarely produces offensive value without those.

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

And Raul’s defense is so excruciatingly bad for all concerned he has negative value when not somehow ( . . . how?) putting ten balls a month in the seats. Seriously, since 1 July, i.e. ‘the second half,’ Ibanez has been a far below replacement player, just as the poster indicated.

I couldn’t care less about whether or not Ibanez makes it to the Mariners’ Hall of Fame. Not an interesting guy, and not one we needed back this season—except the M’s marketing department needed fan-friendly red meat to purvey. They have to love the guy. The rest of us would like a player who can actually play.

HawkeyeCub
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HawkeyeCub
2 years 11 months ago

The Elsbury doesn’t make sense for the Cubs. Lake is raking at the Show, and Almora and Soler are two of their better prospects in the minors. No reason to sign an expensive guy in his 30s to block these guys. If they don’t all pan out, you can acquire an average, low risk guy to cover in the short term. Big time free agency is a sucker’s game, generally speaking, especially for guys in their 30’s. As the Rays and A’s have proven, you don’t have to play that game–those teams win consistently without ever signing a FA for more than 2-3 years.

Charlie
Member
Charlie
2 years 11 months ago

Soler and Almora are in A ball. Lake is a regression bottled up waiting to happen with well below average peripherals. Where are these “average low risk, cheap” players you speak of? The Cubs don’t have the minor league talent knocking on the door in 2014, and maybe not in 2015.

The newly-created stigma of signing free agents is becoming grossly misguided, because most are under the assumption (like above) that average players are easily acquirable. They aren’t. They won’t be. And as the dollar per win expect to rocket upwards, Ellsbury would be a formidable fit in Chicago.

JamesDaBear
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

The Cubs have two low-risk cheap players in their outfield right now in Schierholtz and DeJesus… and Lake is even cheaper and completely risk-free. Almora and Soler will be as close to the majors next year as Puig was this year, with a great chance at reaching the majors in 2015.

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

So by your evaluation, Charlie, the Cubs are awful and several years away. In which case it makes zero (0) sense to sign a speed-and-defense 30-year-old to a +5 year deal. He won’t push them over the top, and isn’t the kind of guy to put fans in seats to cheer for a losing team. By the time the Cubs may have rebuilt, Ellsbury’s principle tool is likely, on a historical basis, to be in decline.

And I’m more with Hawkeye and James: the best talent in the Cubs org are young cheap outfielders who will start to arrive late next year or in 2015. 2016 would be a year it might make sense for the Cubs to sign a guy like Ellsbury, and there will likely be a less expensive and quite possibly more reliable equivalent around then. Signing Ellsbury right now just seems ridiculous.

Look, I know Ellsbury’s agents wants to talk the guy’s market up to the moon, and so the ‘Theo angle’ is being harped online by anonymoids at plus volume. This is the “Near Oregon!” Mariners were trumpeted in said agent’s media plant the other day. Ellsbury should be going to a CONTENDING TEAM, or one close to that. Ellsbury makes great sense for Boston to re-sign, it’s just that Ellsbury’s agent would like to get a half-dozen other clubs in on it to bid up the ask. That’s _all_ we are really talking about here, to me. You’ll want to notice that no one close to an actual organization is talking about how ‘we’ll be looking for a center fielder in the offseason,’ this recent buzz is all media plants. It’s a _game_, guys, and this is how it’s played. But Ellsbury to the Cubs makes very little sense, and Ellsbury to the Mariners makes ‘pretty, not bright’ sense, i.e. not that much. These clubs will just be used as foils for Ellsbury to bid up his re-sign with Boston, believe it.

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 11 months ago

The Cubs aren’t as far-off as you claim. They’ve been getting grossly unlucky this year. Unbelievably unlucky… unfortunate… whatever you want to call it. Their 2013 facade of a record aside, they could compete even as early as next year. Believe it.

Charlie
Member
Charlie
2 years 11 months ago

JamesDaBear, you are absolutely right in one of your points. The Cubs do have DeJesus and Schierholtz, two valuable assets, and more so given their price. Now, you are absolutely wrong. Lake is risk free because he can’t play baseball; he will not hit given his current peripherals, and he is adapting to playing to outfield. He does not add significant value to this team despite popular assumption. However, Lake, with adequate defense and a strong skill set grounded on his arm strength, potentially a 4th or 5th OFer would be a strong-suit for this team. Simply put, if Lake is the starting OFer for the Cubs in 2014, the front office is messing up. Almora and Soler ARE NOT close to the majors. No – both have had SIGNIFICANT development time taken away from them this year due to a broken foot, broken hand, groin issues, and other nagging issues. They are bound for 2015 at the earliest – and that is if everything were to go according to “plan.” Why should the Cubs withold money if an opportunity to win presents itself? Add talent under appropiate financial guidelines – which the Cubs should have – without potentially hindering and maxing out payroll when acquiring future players. Ellsbury fits these guidelines.

Balthazar, you are wrong. Here’s why you are wrong. The Cubs have supplemented this team with valuable assets that have gone under notice this year. As the above poster mentioned, DeJesus and Schierholtz have added the necessary wins to this team with a cost-effective price. The third baseman for this team have added 3 wins above replacement level, which ranks in the upper 33% percentile of the league (pretty surprising, right?) Factor in regression to the mean with Rizzo, regression to the mean with Barney (combined with fantastic defensive value), and and a perceived strong selection of arms for the pitching staff – the team with variance can be competitive. Based on WPA alone, the bullpen has been brutal. It’s cost the team wins. With an improved bullpen based upon a stronger selection of arms acquired recently (Strop, Arrieta, Lim, etc.), it is not out of the realm of possibility the team can improve.

The Cubs can afford Ellsbury, they need outfield help, and are borderline competitive. There is absolutely no reason to withhold money when winning presents itself. The obsession with prospects these days, granted, are understandable. But, it is as if free agent signings are Satanic.

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

Aaaaand DeJesus is so valuable that he’s shipped for a org-fill to be named later; basically a contract dump for a semi-useful 45h OFer.

Charlie, I know we all love our teams so much we have irrational expectations of incremental performance values. But thankfully (for you, actually), Theo is a rational man. In 2014, the Cubinis are competing for _nothing_ beyond the first pick in the draft, and likely in 2015 as well. Theo is priming the talent pump, and dumping unuseful expenditures in the interim. So now that the Chicago Fuzzies have no CFer, ‘they’re going for Ellsbur,’ right? The optics sure don’t support that assertion . . . .

jdbolick
Member
Member
2 years 11 months ago

Matt Szczur.

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 11 months ago

Idiot

Hurtlocker
Guest
Hurtlocker
2 years 11 months ago

Pagan, Ellsbury and Pence, I really like the sound of that!!

Matthew
Member
Member
2 years 11 months ago

I think the Cubs or Mariners land him.

I think the Red Sox would be wise to let him walk. I’d rather go after Choo if I were. them.

Actually I’d rather trade Bogaerts,JBJ,..etc to land Stanton. The Red Sox need a big bat.

John Elway
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John Elway
2 years 11 months ago

NEIGHHHH!!!!

Sleight of Hand Pro
Guest
Sleight of Hand Pro
2 years 11 months ago

never thought this joke would get stale, but my god it has.

walt526
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walt526
2 years 11 months ago

I don’t really understand the “young 30” claim. That sounds more like a Scott Boras sales pitch than sound sabremetric analysis. Relatively few at bats in one’s 20s are a warning sign for health and production in one’s 30s, not a virtue. He’s not a pitcher, so it’s not like he has X many quality at bats in him. Also the reason why he has so few at bats in his 20s is that he: (a) wasn’t a regular until his age 24 season; and (b) missed significant portions of his age 26 and 28 seasons.

Whoever signs him this offseason will very likely overpay for a 30 year-old ballplayer who really has one All Star season. The guy is basically this decade’s Brady Anderson.

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

“This decade’s Brady Anderson.” . . . Yeah, more or less my thoughts. Except ‘this decade’s Gary Matthews, Jr.’ seems closer to it.

I completely agree with your reasoning on ‘less 20s PT is a warning,’ and I, too, didn’t understand the contention in the post on this. Ellsbury has missed time because a) he was slow to develop, because b) is hit tool was meh, while c) getting significantly dinged up more than once. Now, he’s having his second best season in his walk year, and peaking in walk year is, to me, always a danger sign on a guy, especially one with an erratic history and narrow tool base. Ellsbury will help somebody, but a 6-year deal is madness. A deal like Michael Bourn’s should be what org’s are looking for, so Ellsbury’s agent is trying like crazy to ‘expand the buyer pool.’ We don’t have to put salt on that hype and eat it, ‘s all I’m saying.

tdouglas
Member
tdouglas
2 years 11 months ago

I think STL could be a potential suitor. Like you said, Jay is struggling, and the Cardinals have a lot of money coming off the books in the offseason (Westbrook, Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal, Mujica). Even with arbitration raises, they’ve got $20+ million to work with. Their only pressing need is SS, and there aren’t any SS worth spending a ton of money on in the 2014 free agent class. CF is logically the next place to upgrade, especially since their top prospect, Oscar Taveras, doesn’t seem likely to stick in CF.

I’m not saying there’s a great chance, but it’s more likely than you think.

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

Bosox, Reds, Cards, Nats, in that order, strike me as the optimal bidders for Ellsbury. On a 4-year deal, given that level of interest. Outside that, we enter the Land of Hopeful Fools.

Ruki Motomiya
Member
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 11 months ago

Maybe it is just me, but the bit about teams with CFers not getting him seems off:

McCutchen has not historically been a great fielder, while Ellsbury has been, and the right field is an issue for them. They could grab Ellsbury, put him in center and move McCutchen to right, giving them two CFers roaming the OF.

Melky Cabrera sucks and Rasmus has been a historically iffy fielder (Two good/great years, two bad years, one essentially neutral year). Snagging Ellsbury and moving Rasmus to right seems entirely possible.

Adam Jones is a bad fielder, with negative FanGraphs Fld ratings since 2008. Ellsbury to Center, Adam Jones to elsewhere in the OF and if you want to keep McLouth or Markakis in the lineup, you can move one of them to DH (They currently have no good DH, after all). It isn’t like Markakis is a good fielder (From 2008 to this year, he has 2 positive/neutral years and 4 negative ones). Plus, McLouth’s contract is one year and Markakis will be gone soon too…

Too bad the Royals won’t seriously go after him, because an Alex Gordon/Jacoby Ellsbury/Lorzeno Cain OF would be SICK defensively.

As more serious offers go, I like the Giants, Seattle, the Nats and the Cubs.

Ben Hall
Member
Member
Ben Hall
2 years 11 months ago

I disagree about the Pirates, not because of McCutchen’s defense, but because Gregory Polanco is looking like he’ll be ready to take over the third outfield spot in the next year or two. With McCutchen, Marte, and Polanco, it’s hard to imagine the Pirates signing Ellsbury.

On the other hand, I agree about Rasmus, especially because his improvement this year is almost entirely due to a BABIP of .363. Though he maintained a .354 BABIP in 2010, it was .267 and .259 in 2011 and 2012. It’s quite bizarre that’s he’s been significantly above average and below average in the last four seasons, but regardless, he’s definitely not one I would be on to continue to post a high BABIP. And when that goes away and he’s facing a strikeout rate that’s shot up to 30%, he’s likely back to being an average hitter at best. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Anthopoulos trade him this off-season.

Ruki Motomiya
Member
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 11 months ago

I forgot about Polanco.

Spraying Mantis
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Spraying Mantis
2 years 11 months ago

McCutchen has not been great in the field BUT he’s been awesome this year. They already have two CFs roaming the outfield, as Starling Marte is their best CF. He’s just stuck in LF (which is basically a CF at PNC) out of deference to Cutch. Even if Polanco didn’t exist, the Pirates would not put Cutch in RF (a place Garrett f-in’ Jones can field in their home park) just to overpay Jacoby Ellsbury. It would not be worth their money to pay for a strength that they can’t use.

Spraying Mantis
Guest
Spraying Mantis
2 years 11 months ago

Terribly worded that lead sentence. McCutchen has not historically been good in the field, but this year, he has been. Very good out there. May actually earn the gold glove he won last year on name, speed and hitting value.

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

I agree with your reasoning, Ruki, just not your clubs. The Pirates don’t have much dough, and sinking the one large free agent deal they likely could or would sign into a 30-year-old speed-and-defense guy seems like a truly lousy decision. Sure, the Bucs would be better if they moved McCutcheon out of a CF he can’t play, in favor of others in their org who can. And btw the Pirates need to be thinking about how they are going to budget costly but necessary extensions to multiple young talents they already have. Locking themselves into a free agent deal on Ellsbury in particular just doesn’t look bright, to me, even though, sure, he _might_ put them over the top for deep post-season. The play for Stanton made and makes FAR more sense: that is the kind of deal Pittsburgh should be looking at, to me.

The Giants have had a recent history of getting good mileage out of speed-and-D guys, since the acquired Randy Winn. But Sabean has _traded_ for these guys while they were experienced but still reasonably cheap. He hasn’t signed ANY of them to long-term deals, quite rightly so IMO. I don’t see a Giants team in a major transition breaking their MO for a major free agent sign, particularly to sign the kind of guy they have avoided signing long-term in recent years. I spoke to the Cubs above.

Again, Ellsbury to a legitimately contending team, with a gaping chasm in CF describes Ellsbury’s actual market.

Pat
Guest
Pat
2 years 11 months ago

The Angels can use another outfielder, preferably one who costs over 100M

maguro
Guest
maguro
2 years 11 months ago

Come on, Pirates are not signing Jacoby Ellsbury.

robert
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robert
2 years 11 months ago

Hopefully the Giants make a run at him! Ellsbury would get tons of XBH’s in our park. Plus he’d be close to Oregon.

Jason B
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Jason B
2 years 11 months ago

He better be careful heading out there. I lost two family members to dysentery and all of my supplies trying to ford the river.

Johnny
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Johnny
2 years 11 months ago

Everyone realizes Ellsbury is going to be 30 years old and relies on his legs. Doesn’t this sound like Car Crawford all over again? PASS PASS PASS!!

Drew
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

You’re right – wanna bet he’ll be playing in Japan next year?

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 11 months ago

“wanna bet he’ll be playing in Japan next year?”

Crawford or Ellsbury? Either way I’ll take any bet you want to place on that. I work with a bank, I’m pretty sure they would hand over all their vault cash for a 99.99999999% one-year return.

Ruki Motomiya
Member
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 11 months ago

You mean the guy who has put up 2.3 WAR in 83 games this year?

Mac
Guest
Mac
2 years 11 months ago

Beane’s full of surprises by the A’s almost never saddle themselves to expensive 5+ year deals for players over 30. Too much risk.

Retirenutting
Guest
Retirenutting
2 years 11 months ago

I’m not sure it makes sense to dismiss Pittsburgh on the basis of McCutchen. Bucs FO seems to like having multiple CF types — Marte’s a better fielder than McCutchen, according to some. Tabata came up as a CF. That said, Polanco — another CF — is on his way up, too.

Retirenutting
Guest
Retirenutting
2 years 11 months ago

oh, shoot. this was covered above. sorry.

JamesDaBear
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

If the Cubs don’t pick up the $6.5m option on David DeJesus for any reason other than chronic injuries, I’ll flip the hell out. He’s a bargain at that salary and they can easily fit Ellsbury, DeJesus and Schierholtz in their outfield and their payroll.

Zed
Guest
Zed
2 years 11 months ago

Good piece. I think the other factors are overblown. First, Boston will not resign Napoli. I think they will try to resign Drew, probably meaning that Middlebrooks moves over to first as Bogaerts will play somewhere. Even if Drew isn’t back, as you pointed out, Boston already has options at first. A platoon is likely, and don’t forget Carp.

Second, Gomes and Nava are to full time players. Victorino can’t be counted on for more than 120 games. I’m sure that Cherington likes the D that a JBJ, Ellsbury, Victorino outfield provides. Thus a fourth outfilder, a right handed batter, will get plenty of reps. Also, don’t be sure JBJ isn’t in right given Victorino’s health is questionable. Gomes and Nava really can’t play right at Fenway for that long.

Lastly, Boston lacks lefty bats, especially if Drew leaves. JBJ isn’t the offensive players Ellsbury is. Frankly, in this instance Boston is going to overpay and they need to of they want to keep a potent and balanced offense in 2014. He is just as important as Pedroia offensively

Balthazar
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

Yeah, the importance of Ellsbury _to Boston_ doesn’t seem to be getting the squawk just at the moment. Even though Ellsbury is more important to THEM then to any other 25-man in the majors. Must not fit his agent’s preferred narrative . . . .

VikingArthur
Guest
VikingArthur
2 years 11 months ago

I would want NO part of Ellsbury as a Mariners fan. I imagine some idiotic team will give him near nine figures. He isn’t that kind of impact player. Good leadoff hitter/base stealer… but franchise difference maker? No way. If he was a 162 games a year type of guy… I’d be less worried but he is incredibly fragile. Let some other team overpay.

bucs_lose_again
Guest
bucs_lose_again
2 years 11 months ago

“Champing at the bit?” Really? I hope this is a subtle Curb Your Enthusiasm reference.

?
Guest
?
2 years 11 months ago

It is “champing.”

rrbass27
Guest
rrbass27
2 years 11 months ago

I didn’t see Mystery team in the Article.
That’s where my money is.

Matt Mosher
Member
Member
Matt Mosher
2 years 11 months ago

As a Mets fan, I want no part of Ellsbury. He’s going to get paid like a difference-maker and he’s just not. He’s one-dimensional and very injury-prone. Odds on favorite to be the biggest albatross contract of the upcoming free agents.

HenduforKutch
Guest
HenduforKutch
2 years 11 months ago

Is Ellsbury really injury prone? It’s not like he’s pulling hammies or tearing his groin all the time. Adrian Beltre played Kool-Aid man with his ribs and Reid Brignac jumped off the turnbuckle onto his shoulder.

There’s a difference between “been unlucky with injuries” and “injury prone” that’s being missed somewhat here.

As for paying for 30-year old speed, I offer no counter arguments.

CubsCrazy
Member
2 years 11 months ago

I understand that it would be unfair to label a guy who has suffered some “freak injuries” injury-prone, but don’t freak/accidental injuries generally take the same toll on the body? I’m not really fond of signing a guy to a long-term deal, whether he just tore his ACL in the late innings of a game or by recently stepping off the curb awkwardly. His ACL didn’t realize that it was completely torn off the playing field and somehow heal substantially quicker.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 11 months ago

What’s the biggest contract Beane ever signed anyone to in Oakland? And Cincinnati? Really? They already have $80 million tied up next year, and are not a big market team.

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 11 months ago

If it makes any difference, I personally think Ellsbury could care less about playing in Seattle even if it was his real hometown. He’ll sign elsewhere if he’s offered a penny more.

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