Last year Jacoby Ellsbury stunned the baseball world by going from a slightly above average outfielder to MVP caliber player. His numbers were off the charts, producing a .321/.376/.552 slash line alongside 32 home runs and 39 stolen bases. He provided the Red Sox with something every team dreams of having, a five tool player. Now with all that said, I think it’s best if Ellsbury and Sox part ways.
Now most of you would probably dismiss this as madness. After all he is one of the leagues premier players, but how much has he really proven. Coming off an amazing season his value is at an all time high, but he’s yet to back it up due to his subluxed shoulder. Since he has been unable to prove he can consistently play at an MVP level, his value has not been diminished. This is a huge reason why he should be moved, because I doubt that he’ll be able to have many 30-30 seasons, but he’s currently perceived as a guy who can.
Another reason is he struggles to return from injuries. Back in 2010 he fractured 4 of his ribs, which is a fairly severe injury, but it took him the entire year to recover. He did make 2 attempts at a comeback, but his ribs were sore which is understandable, but recovering from soreness shouldn’t take 4+ months. I do realize playing any professional sport takes a toll on your body, but being sore for several months shouldn’t qualify. You look at Dustin Pedroia and what he’s done this year with a bone bruise which gets re-aggravated whenever he gets jammed and he refused to go on the DL until now where it looks like it needs a full 15 day DL stint to recover, but after that 15 days is up he’ll be right back in the lineup. Also this year with his subluxed shoulder he has been slow to recover. it’s said to take 4-6 weeks to recover, and I know he needs to rehab, but it’s been 12 weeks since he was injured which is ample time to return from the injury. If this continues you can never be sure when he’ll be back from any injury. So it is a major reason why the Red Sox should be compelled to move him.
Now the biggest reason is his contract situation. In a perfect world Ellsbury would have signed an extension following last year eating his final 2 years of arbitration. Sadly this world is not perfect and Jacoby’s agent is Scott Boras. Boras is notorious for not wanting to give up arbitration years, and Ellsbury said that despite his love for Boston he’ll leave his contract negotiations up to Boras. This means he will hit free agency following the 2013 season. He’ll likely demand a 7 year 100M+ contract much like the one given to Carl Crawford. Now many people who were against the Carl Crawford contract said his age could be a factor due to declining speed being a part of aging. When Ellsbury hits free agency he’ll be a year older than Crawford was when he signed with the Sox. Now Ellsbury could end up being like Johnny Damon, who always seems to find a way to stay productive, or a an Alfonso Soriano, who has been a disaster. I doubt he’ll end up like Soriano, but after the Sox have gotten burned by bad contracts several times, they may not want to venture into a long term deal.
Now if the Sox do go through with the idea of trading Ellsbury what would they get. They could make him the center of a deal for an impact starting pitcher such as a Zack Greinke or a Cole Hamels. If they were to go for a pitcher at the deadline, trading Ellsbury would have a lot less long term ramifications than trading a high ceiling prospect like Anthony Raunado or Xander Bogarts. They could also sell him for a huge prospect package. If they were to sell him they’d likely wait until after the season, so that they could try for the World Series this year. If they were do a trade like that, a trade like the one that brought Matt Latos to the Reds would be very good. The Padres received a major league pitcher and 3 major league ready prospects. This would be fantastic for the Sox as you can always use more pitching and an infuse a young talent would be good for the Sox especially to complement guys like Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Kalish. Now a deal for Ellsbury is a stretch, but as the deadline approaches anything could happen.