While Boston is off to a terrific start in 2013 and looks like a team that could contend for a playoff spot, sooner or later, the team must make a decision on Jacoby Ellsbury's future with the club.
A free agent after the season, the runner-up in the 2011 AL MVP voting celebrates his 30th birthday in September and has missed significant time with injuries—albeit freak in nature—in both 2010 and 2012, appearing in a total of 92 games.
While it's become clear that Jackie Bradley Jr. isn't quite ready for the big show, there's little doubt that the 23-year-old represents the future in center field for the Red Sox.
And at a fraction of the price it will cost to keep Ellsbury in Boston.
His agent, Scott Boras, made it clear last year in a conversation with ESPN's Gordon Edes that he expects Ellsbury to be paid like one of the premier players in the game:
He has shown he can hit .300 in the big leagues, not once but twice. He's at a point in his career he's proven he can be a No. 3-hitter type of guy, with power. He's a premium center fielder. Everywhere I go, they all ask. That's all I can say. You're talking about teams really covet this player.
We view him as a franchise player.
To get an idea of what the going rate for a franchise center fielder is, let's take a look at what some of the best in MLB are earning, both in 2013 and 2014:
| ||2013 Salary ||2014 Salary
|Jacoby Ellsbury ||$9,000,000 ||FA
|Curtis Granderson ||$15,000,000 ||FA
|Adam Jones ||$8,833,333 ||$13,333,000
|Matt Kemp ||$20,250,000 ||$21,250,000
|Andrew McCutchen ||$4,708,333 ||$7,458,000
|B.J. Upton ||$13,050,000 ||$14,050,000
You can bet that Matt Kemp will be the player Boras uses as a comparison for his client, and it's debatable whether the Red Sox would be interested in dishing out another multi-year deal for more than $100 million to a speedy outfielder in his 30s.
While Ellsbury would serve as nothing more than a short-term rental, the package that Boston could receive in exchange for him would be substantial.