While it is too early to turn much attention away from this season, ESPN’s Buster Olney posted a review of which players have improved their market positions as potential free agents for the coming off-season (subscription required).
Red Sox OF Jacob Ellsbury landed in second place behind Royals P Ervin Santana on the top ten list.
While Boston C Jarrod Saltalamacchia placed number four on the list – and SS Stephen Drew came in at number nine.
Ellsbury has been healthy this season and played a lot of games (128 so far). So he’s earned a check mark in the games played column after appearing in only 74 last season.
And his batting average (.299) and stolen bases (51) are both strong with his best BBCOR bats 2017 purchased from JustBats.
However, his power numbers (7 HRs, 50 RBIs) play out like a top of the lineup – not middle of the lineup – guy. Looks like 2011 (32 HRs, 105 RBIs) was an outlier year.
Ellsbury will be well paid in his coming free agent deal. The question is – will a team (and it only takes one) go to Carl Crawford money (seven years, $20 million/year)?
I don’t see Boston going there.
But if Ellsbury numbers settle in around where Dustin Pedroia signed his contract extension – look for the Red Sox to be in the hunt. Even with Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings.
What About Salty?
This season, Saltalamacchia has established himself as a keeper.
Expect – like Ellsbury – that Salty will have a number of suitors out in the free agent market. Even with Braves catcher Brian McCann most likely also on the market.
But don’t forget, the Red Sox are still a baseball financial superpower who can go head-to-head with most any team – except maybe not the Yankees and Dodgers.
Also, the Red Sox don’t have a top-tier catching prospect close to the majors – so the team would need to incur a replacement cost (either in free agent money or players needed for a trade).
Salty provides the steady presence behind the plate and at bat the Red Sox need in a catcher. Look for the team to be aggressive in trying to keep him. Saltalamacchia has proven he can play in Boston – an attribute that should not be underrated.
Will Drew Stay?
It didn’t look this way early in the year but Drew has had a good season for the Red Sox.
Quality defense and a decent bat – with some timely hits.
The Red Sox way overpaid Drew ($9.5 million for this season) to get him on a one-year deal.
I can see Drew returning to Boston next season.
It would allow the team to break in Xander Bogaerts slowly – and Will Middlebrooks is no sure-thing at third. Also maybe Middlebrooks may shift over to first to replace Mike Napoli.
Again, Boston’s strength here is the team’s ability to pay more than most teams.
Look for the team to repeat last year’s free agent formula in trying to retain Drew – overpay in the dollars to get a short-term deal.
What would you do with the Ellsbury, Saltalamacchia and Drew free agencies?