In Contention with the Boston Media: Why It's a Terrible Idea to Trade Ellsbury

Stephen SikoraContributor IJune 20, 2012

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 31:  Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated after he hit a two run homer in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees on August 31, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

On the Felger and Mazz Boston radio show on Monday, co-host Tony Massarotti stated that the Red Sox should look to trade Jacoby Ellsbury- right now, that is.

In fact, the Boston Globe sportswriter wrote that Ellsbury should have been traded after his extraordinary MVP-type season last year. In exchange for the centerfielder, Massarotti suggested the Red Sox receive a high-caliber starting pitcher, someone akin to Felix Hernandez.

I expect most Boston fans had the same reaction as me, which is something along the lines of "what is he thinking?" Not only would trading Ellsbury now be a terrible move, but letting him go before his contract is up in 2013 would be a poor decision that could tarnish the positive reputation General Manager Ben Cherington currently has with the Boston fan base.

Regardless of whether Ellsbury will make a full recovery from his injuries, the fact is that his current trade value is not as high as when he's playing at full strength. If the Red Sox do intend to deal him this year, the only logical move would be to wait until he’s played a couple of weeks to prove that he’s healthy.

However, the Red Sox are still in the playoff race. Even with all of their injuries and a sub-par start to the season by their starting pitching, Boston’s only four games out of a postseason spot, and their run differential of plus-29 is fourth best in the league. Trading Ellsbury would be a slap in the face to fans that rightfully expect the Red Sox to compete for the postseason when it’s within their reach.

Mazz states that the Sox should look for a front line starter for Ellsbury. The problem with this logic is that most of the teams that have such a player are fighting for a playoff spot, as there are currently 22 teams within six games of a postseason berth. None of them are likely to give up such a valued commodity, as a team can never have too much pitching, especially in the postseason.

A mid-season trade of Ellsbury, therefore, could only be done with a team that’s clearly out of the postseason race and has a need for an outfielder. But most of those teams are not close to contending, and have a long-term outlook to achieve eventual success. They’d have no desire to downgrade their pitching for a player who may leave them after the 2013 season.

And why would the Red Sox, who have the players and resources to compete every year, trade away the man who led MLB in WAR in 2011 and was signed to a one-year, $8 million dollar deal after avoiding arbitration this past off-season? Even if they intend to let him go as a free agent, there’s no sense in dealing such a great player when he’s that affordable over the next one-and-a-half seasons.

The Red Sox should reward Ellsbury with a long-term deal; if anyone on this team deserves a $100 million contract, it’s him, not Crawford or Gonzalez. If they do decide to put their resources elsewhere though, the Sox will gain multiple high draft picks as compensation for him leaving.

If the Sox trade him, they’d be signaling loud and clear that they’re not looking to compete in the near future. It’d then be better for them to use the draft to rebuild their minor league system for the long run, rather than be forced to pick from a team’s list of prospects.

There are a number of members of the media around Boston that have absolutely no faith in this Red Sox team. They talk and write about how the team should be blown up, and only a certain few guys should remain off limits in trades.

That sentiment is ludicrous.

If it weren’t for a once in a lifetime series of events last fall, the Sox would be coming off a playoff year, and their mediocre record so far could be explained by the many injuries the team’s had.

Jacoby Ellsbury has not only been a key member of this Red Sox team and fan base, he was one of, if not the best player in the American League last year. To let him go because of Boston’s slow start to the season would be a shame.