Of course the Red Sox would deal Jacob Ellsbury—for the right price. After all, little sentimentality is left in the big business that is baseball.
Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune put the former Oregon State great's 2011 season in perspective. She points out that he led the majors with 364 total bases and 83 extra-base hits, and he finished in the league's Top 10 in virtually every offensive category, including batting average (.321), doubles (46), home runs (32), runs (119), RBIs (105) and stolen bases (39). He also earned a Silver Slugger award.
Eggers also went deeper.
He broke Darin Erstad’s major-league record for RBIs from a leadoff hitter (100 with the Angels in 2000), became the first Boston player with a 30/30 (homers/stolen bases) season and joined Alex Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero and Alfonso Soriano as the only major-leaguers ever to reach 200 hits, 100 RBIs, 35 steals and 30 homers in a single campaign.
At Madras High School in Oregon, Ellsbury was a four-year letterman in baseball. He holds state records for career batting average (.567), total steals and stolen bases in one game (seven). He was caught stealing only once in four years.
He also lettered four years in football, posting nine interceptions and six kickoff returns for touchdowns. He lettered only three years in baseball while averaging 23.6 points per game and 4.4 blocks per game.
In his last season at Oregon State (2005), he hit .415 with 17 doubles and 21 steals. He was Pac-10 Conference Co-Player of the Year and a First Team NCAA All-American.
Pat Casey, his college coach, told Eggers: “He did things nobody has ever done. Offensively, he was incredible, and he was maybe the top defensive center fielder in the game.”
While pundits focused on his tremendous offensive production in 2011, he also earned his first Gold Glove. He did not commit an error in 158 games, being one of only two qualifying outfielders to post a 1.000 fielding percentage. In fact, he holds the Red Sox record, with 232 games and 554 chances without an error.
There is no question he is the real deal.
Ellsbury and the Red Sox avoided arbitration this year by agreeing to a contract worth a tad over $8 million, according to MLBTR's Ben-Nicholson-Smith. That's a decent raise from the $2.4 million he earned in 2011, but it's is a drop in the bucket compared to what he could earn as a free agent after the 2013 season.
That is the primary factor the Red Sox will have to consider. Are they prepared to pay what it will cost to sign Ellsbury to an extension? It would not be out of the question for him to earn $150 million or so on a seven-year free-agent deal—so long as he can maintain decent production the next two seasons.
Can—and should—the Red Sox sign him to a long-term deal? Or are they better off trading him?
Here are the main factors to consider.