Ellsbury, represented by agent Scott Boras, will be seeking to cash in on a very successful 2013 campaign and a stellar postseason in which he has hit .500 with a pair of doubles, seven runs and four stolen bases.
Coming hot on the heels of a disappointment-laden long-term deal with outfielder Carl Crawford, it appears highly unlikely that the Red Sox would risk such an outcome again. The team will likely aim for a four-year deal, but Boras is shooting for a deal that could run as long as eight years and be worth more than $100 million.
The Crawford contract, which totaled $142 million, was a disappointment to the Red Sox front office and ownership – and that’s an understatement. He was included in the blockbuster trade involving Boston and the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, and has since found a rejuvenated style of play out west.
The Ellsbury dilemna, as it could soon be known as, is simple. Much more simple than many will admit. The contract offer cannot be based solely on the player Ellsbury is now. It has to take into account the player he will be when one of his most valuable assets – his speed – begins to decline, hindering him as a threat on the basepaths and as a plus-defender in center field.
The other factor, which is probably the most important factor if your team is looking at the Red Sox outfielder, is his health. Let’s just put it out there. He missed 28 games this year, 88 games last year, and 144 games in 2010. Despite the talent and multiple tools he brings to the field when he is healthy, he just isn’t healthy enough on a consistent basis to justify a long-term deal, which is what he will seek.
Should he continue his torrid pace for the remainder of the offseason, his value in the eyes of Boras will only increase. With Boston firing on all cylinders heading into the ALCS this weekend, the biggest prize – a World Series title – will have to be enough to comfort Red Sox Nation as they mourn the loss of one of the game’s best players this offseason.