Jacoby Ellsbury will become a free agent after next season and it could be in Boston’s best interest to try and find a suitor for him in the meantime. By dealing Ellsbury to the Arizona Diamondbacks, they could wind up acquiring Justin Upton.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, last season it was rumored that D-Backs GM Kevin Towers was willing to deal Upton to Boston if he got a package similar to what San Diego received in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, or if he could get Clay Buchholz in return.
According to Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com, there were also rumors later in the year that Arizona wanted a package involving Ellsbury and Daniel Bard in exchange for Upton.
Neither rumor developed into much, but it seems that Towers will again listen to offers for his superstar outfielder, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
With Upton possibly on the market, Boston should again explore swapping Ellsbury for Upton.
After an explosive season last year where Ellsbury finished second in the AL MVP voting, he’s spent the majority of 2012 on the disabled list after suffering a separated shoulder. Although injured several times in previous seasons, Ellsbury has been rather consistent at the plate and in center field.
Upton is more of a No. 3 or 4 hitter compared to Ellsbury, who usually hits in the leadoff spot for Boston. He’s hit at least 15 home runs in each of the last four years and set a career-high with 31 last season. His average has dipped this year, but the power is still there and the 24-year-old still has plenty of potential.
One of the major benefits of acquiring Upton is that the earliest he will become a free agent is 2016. That gives Boston at least three and a half seasons with Upton as an everyday outfielder who can hit in the heart of the lineup.
Since Ellsbury will be a free agent after next year, Boston would likely have to give up several talented prospects in order to make the deal more attractive to the D-Backs. A potential deal might even have to include names such as Anthony Ranaudo, Jackie Bradley or Matt Barnes.
Upton is a serious talent that won’t be easy to pry from Arizona. Towers knows how valuable he is and will look to get full value back if a trade were to happen. He might be more likely to deal Upton should Arizona continue to play poorly and fall farther from playoff contention.
Having a healthy Carl Crawford in the lineup playing alongside a player like Justin Upton for several years is much better than a healthy Carl Crawford and Ellsbury for only one more year.
It’s still unknown if Ellsbury is interested in signing an extension with Boston or if he’d sign a new deal with the Diamondbacks should he be dealt. Whether he re-signs with Boston will rely on the second half of this season and all of next year.
If he puts up numbers like he did in 2011, he’ll likely test the market and see how much money he can get.
At least with Upton, you don’t have to worry about locking him up for a few years.
If Upton is seriously up for grabs, Boston should look into the Ellsbury trade they didn’t make in 2011.
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