Where Will He Sign:Jacoby Ellsbury
In a new offseason feature BHC writers will explore the possible landing spots for high priced free agents. In the fourth edition of “Where Will He Sign” the staff analysed the possible teams in play for the services of outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Brandon Jopko @pumpedupjays: Personally, I don’t think the chances are too likely for Ellsbury to return to Boston. I think the Red Sox have learned their lesson in dishing out large free agent contracts and subsequently will go the Jackie Bradley Jr. route in addition to signing a veteran CF that could help out. I think Ellsbury will really end up with a Chicago team, maybe the Cubs, but I think more likely the White Sox. Reason being, the south-siders are re-tooling and really need an offensive player with speed that can hit at the top of their line-up that can make an impact for years to come. Not that I think it’s the right move for GM Rick Hahn to make (I’d opt for an entire re-build), but they’ve shown little in the way of patience and building from the farm. As a result, they’ll sign a bat like Ellsbury.
Marc Keller @mrarmchair: As a San Francisco Giants fan, my heart can’t let go of the dream of Ellsbury coming to SF and patrolling center field and batting leadoff. The Giants can easily move current center fielder Angel Pagan to left field, putting a plug in that gaping hole, and having him bat second in the order. But the Giants on numerous occasions have said they will not sign a free agent with a qualifying offer and forfeit their first round pick, so they are out, killing my dream in the process. For my actual analysis, I think their is going to be a huge bidding war for Ellsbury’s services and the three teams that will be engaged in this battle are the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, and Chicago Cubs. In the end, my gut tells me that the Cubs will win this bidding war. Ellsbury has a long history with current Cubs President Theo Epstein from their days with the Boston Red Sox and this would be the first major signing for Epstein since joining the Cubs in 2011. Ellsbury would be a great signing and fit for the Cubs. It’s no secret that the Cubs have a strong farm system, with four very highly-touted prospects that are close to becoming major leaguers in shortstop Javier Baez, third baseman Kris Bryant (recently named Arizona Fall league MVP), and outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler. Couple those prospects with already established big leaguers in first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro, and you have the makes of a really good baseball team. Ellsbury would be the perfect compliment to this group, batting leadoff, getting on-base and stealing bases, and providing plus defense in center field. Additionally, Ellsbury is still young enough to where if it takes these prospects a couple years to develop and make some headway in the majors, Ellsbury would still be in the middle of his prime years. A core of Ellsbury, Castro, Bryant, Rizzo, Soler, Baez, and Almora is something Cubs fans could really be excited for.
Chris Lacey@aecanada12: Jacoby Ellsbury is one of the two premier free agent outfielders available this offseason, with the other player being Shin-Soo Choo. Ellsbury has speed to burn with him swiping 52 bases this past season. The Mariners would seem to be the perfect fit, as he could slide in immediately and be their leadoff hitter.
Scott Eastment @SportsGeek02: As much as this Washington Nationals fan would love to say it, Jacoby Ellsbury is NOT coming to D.C. I do not think he is going to go back to Boston either. The Texas Rangers seem like the logical fit as it appears they are not going to pay Nelson Cruz what he wants, however with Leonys Martin having come on as of late and Shin-Soo Choo out there, I do not see Ellsbury headed to Arlington either. Rounding out the key players’ list would be the usual suspects of the Yankees, Tigers, and Phillies, as well as the Mariners and Giants. Personally, I see Ellsbury choosing money over everything, especially coming off a World Series championship. That should be music to the ears of the Seattle Mariners faithful as I expect the star center fielder to sign there.
Chris Moran @HangingSlurves: Jacoby Ellsbury is looking for 7 years, and up to 20 million, and I think he will get it. Ellsbury has had his struggles with injuries, but when he’s healthy, he’s been one of the best players in the AL. He’s an elite base runner with a ton of range in center field. Additionally, he can more than hold his own with the stick, as his career .298/.355/.426 batting line shows. Maybe his 2011 power surge was an aberration, but he was a star in 2013 as well. Understandably, there are concerns about signing a 30 year-old outfielder with a lengthy injury history to a long-term deal, but players with skill sets similar to Ellsbury tend to age well. I expect the Cubs, Giants, Rangers, Yankees and Mariners to be the top players. Don’t discount the idea of the Red Sox keeping him around either.
Adrian Garro @adriangarro: Though it would seem that Ellsbury would have every reason to re-sign with the World Champion Boston Red Sox, his name continues to be bandied about in Hot Stove discussions. The Texas Rangers are said to be preferring Shin-Soo Choo over Ellsbury, leaving the door presumably open for other teams willing to give him the payday he seeks. While ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick says the Seattle Mariners‘ supposed interest in Ellsbury is ‘overblown’, it just seems to make sense (to me at least) to expect Ellsbury to sign a lucrative deal with Seattle, since he’s originally from the area. If the Mariners want to compete with the Oakland A’s and Rangers (and Angels) in the A.L. West, they’ll have to start fielding a team with a consistent offense – and a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury would go a long way in providing the spark the team so desperately needs.
Brendan Panikkar @Panikkar37: Jacoby Ellsbury is one of the most dynamic players on the free agent market and it will command big bucks in order to sign him. His speed is second to none, as evidenced by his 241 stolen bases, 70 of which came in the 2009 season and 52 stolen bases this past season. He also has a career .297 batting average so the offense is there. His one outlier season was in 2011 when he had 32 home runs and 105 RBI, but he hasn’t hit more than 9 home runs in any other season, but the power isn’t Ellsbury’s calling card. His ability to be one of the most dynamic leadoff hitters in the game today is what will cause his value to soar to probably around $100 million. Teams that have had reported interest in Ellsbury is the Mets, Mariners, Yankees and others but I can see the Seattle Mariners making a run at Ellsbury. Ellsbury is from the Pacific Northwest and the Mariners are looking to improve their outfield. I see the match between the two and the Red Sox have admitted it will be a long shot to sign Ellsbury, the Mets are looking at Curtis Granderson, and the Yankees are trying to lower payroll so this is the Mariners time to swoop in and add a dynamic leadoff hitter, something they thought they had when the signed Chone Figgins a few years back but this will be more of a sure thing as long as Ellsbury stays healthy. Ellsbury to the Mariners in the ballpark of 6 years, 100 million.
Gary Marchese @gmarchesej: I want to say he would resign with the Boston Red Sox however the Boston Red Sox are really not showing any interest in resigning him. They may even be in heavy pursuit of Carlos Beltran which would enable them to slide Shane Victorino over from right field into center field. I am going to say the Texas Rangers on this one, I think he is a guy that would fit the Rangers well and they could use an outfielder with the ability to hit leadoff. The New York Mets aren’t going to go over 100 million and he will probably demand a contract in the 150 million dollar neighbourhood. I say the Texas Rangers for 6 years and about 150 million.
Clayton Richer @MLBHotCorner: Every team in major league baseball would welcome the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury to their everyday lineup, however only a few teams will be comfortable forking over a truck load of money for the speedy outfielder. Ellsbury is arguably one of the best talents in the game and one of the top available free agents of the off-season. However, Ellsbury has battled to stay healthy due to his style of play and doesn’t appear poised to repeat the power numbers from his MVP worthy season of 2011. The usual suspects are rumored to have kicked the tires of Ellsbury who is sure to double his 9 million dollar salary from last year. I like the Chicago Cubs on this one and foresee a reunion with Ellsbury and Theo Epstein on the horizon.