5 Potential Landing Spots for Jacoby Ellsbury During Free Agency
Checking Out the Market for Jacoby Ellsbury
Heading into the offseason, Jacoby Ellsbury will be one of the most interesting free agents to watch, as the contract he ends up signing could set the marketplace for the rest of the winter. This is not because of a lack of performance, but because of the fact that getting the center fielder on the field has proven to be a difficult subject at times.
During the past four seasons Ellsbury has seemingly been an every other year player, appearing in 18 games in 2010, 158 in 2011, 74 in 2012 and 134 in 2013. Injuries throughout this time to the ribs, shoulder and foot will lead some to wonder if he is a broken machine or a product of a guy that gives 100 percent all the time.
Of course, when Ellsbury is in the lineup, the center fielder is one of the best at his positions in MLB, combining to play exceptional defense with great hitting at the top of any lineup. In 2013, he compiled a statistical line of .298/.355/.426 with eight triples, nine home runs, 172 hits, 52 stolen bases, 92 runs scored and 53 RBIs. This was good enough for a 5.8 WAR, which sits below the incredible 8.0 WAR compiled in 2011 and will make many teams drool over the potential of a top of the order guy who can play above average defense in center field.
With Scott Boras as his agent Ellsbury will undoubtedly be searching for the largest deal possible, with sources stating that he is holding out for roughly seven years and $142 million deal. Getting any team to dole out this money will surely be somewhat difficult because of injury concerns, but with consistently solid production there is n doubting that some team will spend big on his services eventually.
Having these question marks and advantages of inking Ellsbury to a long term deal into mind we have searched out to find the five teams who his services and placed them into a list based on who are the most likely destinations.
5.New York Mets
With Johan Santana's salary coming off the books, the New York Mets now have only $25 million committed for the 2013 season. Granted, that salary is going to only two players, but the team will have a large amount of money to spend, and is clearly looking to improve on a 74-88 record this past season. On top of this need to improve in order to think about making the playoffs, the team is beginning to lose fan interest at Citi Field -- they had the 21st highest average attendance in MLB in 2013 -- and surely could use a big time name other than David Wright to attract fans in 2014. Signing Ellsbury would definitely bring some excitement to town, and his speed and knack to hit line drives all over the park would be a perfect fit for the vast outfield at the Mets home park.
It took an epic collapse for the Texas Rangers to miss the playoffs in 2013, and it appears that the organization is ready to spend money to ensure that this doesn't happen again. With the departure of David Murphy and Nelson Cruz from the team's outfield to free agency this offseason, it is clear that there is also a void in the outfield that needs to be filled. Jacoby Ellsbury would be a perfect player to fill this gap, as matching the center fielder with Elvis Andrus at the top of the team's lineup would be a deadly combination. It would also send a big statement to opposition teams that the Rangers will no longer let big name players pas them by, and in fact they will be big players in the free agent market.
3.Boston Red Sox
After housing Ellsbury for the past seven years, it would make sense that the Boston Red Sox would be the front-runners for the outfielder's services, especially after he helped deliver a World Series victory in 2013. Surprisingly enough, this is not the case, though, as Boston has made it clear that they will not be entering a bidding war when they have Jackie Bradley Jr. sitting in the wings as the center fielder of the future. Whether or not this is just a bargaining tool is yet to be seen, but it appears that if the center fielder comes back to Boston it will be on a much cheaper deal than the $142 million he is asking for.
The Chicago Cubs have gone through a major overhaul since Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein took over as general manager and president in 2011, getting rid of old and unproductive players and stockpiling prospects. To date, this has not directly translated into better production on the field at Wrigley Field, though, the team has made it know they are looking to make big acquisitions to facilitate a return to being a playoff team in the near future. Signing Ellsbury would clearly go into the category of big time acquisitions, and with the player having a long held relationship with Epstein -- he was Boston's general manager during his first five seasons in MLB -- it would make sense he would move on to help his new project. Plus, Epstein will likely be willing to overpay with the idea of getting more free agents to buy into his plan going forward, which will surely please both the center fielder and Boras.
By all accounts, the Seattle Mariners are extremely interested in Ellsbury, with expectations being the player is also interested in returning to his Northwestern roots. In terms of being an actual fit one monetarily and on the field, it is clear that Seattle has money to spend with only $33.8 million committed for 2014 and has a huge outfield at Safeco Field that fits the center fielder's skill set. If Seattle is willing to shell out big bucks, they will likely get a new center fielder and face of the franchise.