MLB Winter Meetings: Should Cincinnati Reds Pursue Sox Jacoby Ellsbury?

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MLB Winter Meetings: Should Cincinnati Reds Pursue Sox Jacoby Ellsbury?
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The Boston Red Sox recently inked Shane Victorino to a three-year, $39 million dollar deal (See ESPN.com). The Sox are now overloaded in the outfield and could be looking to move somebody.

With the addition of Victorino, who is primarily a center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury is the odd-man out in the Sox outfield.

ESPN's Buster Olney has confirmed via Twitter that the Sox are willing to listen to offers on Ellsbury but will trade him only if they're blown away by an offer.

If you scroll through the MLB Trade Rumors timeline on the Red Sox and asses their interest in free agency this offseason, then the Red Sox's top interests include acquiring a shortstop and a starting pitcher.

The Reds are obviously in the market for an outfielder and a leadoff hitter as shown by their interest in players like Dexter Fowler, Shane Victorino, Angel Pagan and Ryan Ludwick.

Now, rumors have sprung that they may be interested in Jacoby Ellsbury.

An ESPN insider article by Buster Olney (if you're an insider view here) has the Reds listed as a possible trade partner for the Red Sox. Olney listed Homer Bailey and Mike Leake as potential trade chips.

 

Bailey is obviously the most established of the two pitchers, but Olney noted that Leake is only 25 and could still have enough potential to interest the Sox if the Reds weren't willing to budge on Bailey. 

Should the Reds pursue Jacoby Ellsbury?

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If the Reds are going to trade for Ellsbury, they're going to have to sweeten the deal with a shortstop like Zack Cozart or Didi Gregorius. Gregorius has more upside than Cozart defensively, but at 27 years old, Cozart looks to be the more complete player at this point in their careers.

So in exchange for Jacoby Ellsbury, it looks like the Red Sox might expect Homer Bailey/Mike Leake along with Zack Cozart/Didi Gregorius.

Is that worth it for the Reds?

Ellsbury is a great center fielder. He received a Gold Glove for his 2011 season to go along with an All-Star selection and a Silver Slugger Award while finishing second in AL MVP voting.

The 29-year-old center fielder owns a .297/.349/.442 slash line with 162 game averages of 16 HR, 35 2B, 73 RBI, 53 SB and 107 runs scored. While those are tantalizing numbers to many fans, think about the fact that Ellsbury has had two of his last three seasons shortened by injury.

In addition to the injury factor, Ellsbury is a free agent following the 2013 season. MLBtraderumors.com writer Tim Dierkes has Ellsbury's post-arbitration value for 2013 projected at $8.1 million and there's reason to believe he'll want a raise once he's eligible for free agency.

 

With Scott Boras for an agent, Ellsbury will likely be looking for a five-to-six-year deal worth at least $15 million annually. 

If Cincinnati deemed Shane Victorino, Angel Pagan and Torii Hunter to be too expensive at roughly $13 million, $10 million and $13 million per year, then the Reds certainly can't afford Ellsbury after 2013.

The package the Reds would have to send isn't overwhelmingly large. However, the real problem is the fact that he would never re-sign with the Reds.

If an extension isn't guaranteed then there's no sense in pursuing him.

I understand the win-now mentality, but pursuing a one-year rental of a player who has had health issues in two of the last three seasons just isn't good business for a team like Cincinnati.

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