After watching Jacoby Ellsbury score what would turn out to be the ALDS series-clinching run in the seventh inning of the Boston Red Sox‘ 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, there was no doubting he had a series for the ages. Ellsbury put up a .500/.526/.611 stat line with nine hits, two doubles, four stolen bases and seven runs during the Red Sox’ four games against the Rays, putting to rest any doubts over his play.
This type of display would be incredibly impressive for any player, but takes on more meaning for Ellsbury as he enters free agency after the season. When this type of contribution is combined with an impeccable 2013 season, it is easy to see that Ellsbury will be in hot demand once the market opens up.
During the regular season, Ellsbury put up a stat line of .298/.355/.426 with 172 hits, 31 doubles, nine home runs, eight triples, 53 RBIs, and 52 stolen bases. This great output in terms of baseline statistics translated into a 4.2 offensive WAR, indicating that Ellsbury performed at a level that was much better than the league average player at the plate.
Further indication of this fact was simply provided by watching a single Red Sox game, as Ellsbury hits in the leadoff spot and serves as the catalyst of what has been an immensely aggressive group on the basepaths. For the entirety of the regular season, the Red Sox ranked fifth in all of MLB in stolen bases and scored the most runs of any team.
While this team’s offensive production is often contributed to the efforts of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, who were undoubtedly great, there was no player more important within the Red Sox lineup in 2013 than Ellsbury.
In addition to performing incredibly at the plate, Ellsbury will be buoyed by the fact that he was one of the best center fielders in all of baseball, according to both the eye test and statistics. When watching the Red Sox throughout the season, it was immensely clear that Ellsbury was getting to balls that nearly any other player in MLB would get to, and was willing to run through walls to get to them.
On paper, this range and effort translated into a 1.9 defensive WAR, which second among center fielders and ninth among all players in the AL. This undoubtedly confirmed what the eye was telling viewers and general managers around the league.
So how exactly will this production turn into a contract come the offseason?
When looking at the fact that Ellsbury made $8.05 million and $9 million during the last two seasons, it invariably means a huge raise. After all, in a MLB landscape where 36 contracts worth $100 million or greater since have been signed 2007, it is utterly apparent that Ellsbury will be looking to approach this figure at the very least.
When putting an exact number to this increase, it is easy to look at the seven-year,$142 million contract that Carl Crawford garnered from the Red Sox after the 2010 season. Both players spray the ball all over the field, play strong defense, are great within the clubhouse and maybe most importantly, are represented by super agent Scott Boras.
With Boras looking to make a splash after losing big time client Robinson Cano prior to the 2013 season, there is no doubt that he will have Ellsbury holding out for the most lucrative deal possible. My guess is that this deal will turn out to be a eight-year,$145 million contract.