Potential Red Sox Trading Partners on Jacoby Ellsbury
This is a big off-season for Jacoby Ellsbury and the Boston Red Sox.
Ellsbury is in the 2014 free agent class.
His agent Scott Boras typically takes his clients to free agency, rather than re-signing with a player’s team before hitting the market.
Either way – early signing or free agency – expect Ellsbury to cost a lot of money.
And changes in free agent compensation rules complicate the decision process – with no draft pick compensation for teams that acquire players in walk-years during the season.
That means teams are less likely to pay big for free agents to be – during a season – because they get no compensation. So Ellsbury – theoretically – should have higher trade value before the 2013 starts.
So if you are Red Sox GM Ben Cherington – what do you do?
- Who is Ellsbury? The MVP caliber player of 2011 or a player who has been injured for a bunch of the season in two out of the last three years?
- Do you try to sign Ellsbury this off-season – knowing (if successful) you are looking at something like $20 million/year for seven years (Crawford money – thanks, Theo)?
- Is Ellsbury worth that amount of money – even if Boras changes his typical approach?
- Do you explore the trade market for Ellsbury – figuring his trade value only drops once the 2013 season begins?
- Or does Boston figure outfield prospect Jackie Bradley is on his way to Fenway and ride out next season with Ellsbury – and make a decision on Ellsbury’s long-term future after the 2013 season, partly based on whether Bradley is ready?
It Gets More Complicated
The outfield market is crowded.
Free agents to be include: Josh Hamilton (can play CF), Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton and Shane Victorino. And maybe Curtis Granderson.
All centerfielders who are available for draft picks not quality players.
Add to the outfield market that Arizona may look to trade Justin Upton. Not a centerfielder but another high-quality outfielder who could be on the market.
So, let’s look at teams that may be interested in Ellsbury.
Ellsbury Trade Targets
- Seattle. Their offense stinks. They have pitching and young players on the way – all good trade fodder. Ellsbury is from the Pacific Northwest – so maybe they can keep him (and they have money to spend).
- San Francisco. Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera are on their way to free agency. How about Ellsbury for Hunter Pence (no arm – just like Ellsbury)? The big outfield in San Francisco fits Ellsbury. Both players are free agents after the 2013 season but maybe Pence is more signable.
- Texas. Hamilton may be on his way out as a free agent with the Rangers. How about Ellsbury for Elvis Andrus – freeing a spot for super SS prospect Jurickson Profar? Boston would probably need to add more given Ellsbury’s status, but worth exploring.
- Washington. They need a centerfielder. If the Nats keep Adam LaRoche – Michael Morse could be available, which could be the start of an Ellsbury deal.
- Miami. Who knows what’s going on with the Marlins? They need a centerfielder. Suppose they combined a starter (to shed salary) like Mark Buehrle and a stud prospect like Christian Yelich (unlikely – but worth exploring) with Boston adding another young player. That may be a deal.
What would you do with Ellsbury – Sign him? Trade him?