The New York Mets are targeting Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and may seek to acquire the speedy outfielder this winter, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo and multiple sources within the Mets organization.
This information fascinates from several angles. That the Mets consider themselves potential buyers of rising, affordable talent, that the Red Sox might actually be positioned to consider dealing their homegrown speedster, and that these two teams might match up perfectly in consummating such a deal, are all intriguing aspects of this particular rumor.
The Mets certainly need both to upgrade their outfield and get younger. Despite being sidelined with rib fractures throughout most of the 2010 season, Ellsbury would help the Mets tremendously in both senses.
A career .291 hitter who stole 120 bases over the 2008 and 2009 campaigns, the 27-year-old Ellsbury could bolster the speed element at the top of the Mets lineup, particularly if New York is considering parting ways with Jose Reyes once his contract expires at the end of 2011.
An above-average defender, particularly at the corner outfield positions, Ellsbury owns a 23.4 UZR/150 in left field and would certainly be an upgrade over Jason Bay, who could be shifted to right field.
Meanwhile, it's no secret that there could be a developing rift between Ellsbury, his agent Scott Boras, and Red Sox management.
This season, Ellsbury accused the Red Sox of toying with his injury and failing to take his medical complaints seriously. Combine that open hostility with the most difficult agent in baseball, and you have a recipe for an Ellsbury trade.
Of course, any team that might deal for Ellsbury would need pockets deep enough to retain him when he hits free agency. The Mets are one of only a handful of teams should Ellsbury continue his impressive production.
So, Ellsbury is a prime candidate to be shipped from Boston. The Mets have the need and the money. The question remains: what can the Mets offer in return?
With Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre both hitting free agency this winter under Type-A status, the Red Sox will either be paying through the nose to resign them or pursuing internal or external replacement options. While the Mets lack a suitable catcher to deal, they do have an attractively priced third baseman in David Wright.
For more details on David Wright's availability and suitability, read this recent article: MLB Trade Rumors: New York Mets' David Wright a Fit with the Red Sox?
While a pure Wright-for-Ellsbury swap seems unlikely, those two pieces could form the core of a deal. Obviously, given the Francisco Rodriguez situation, Jonathan Papelbon could also figure prominently in any serious Mets-Red Sox negotiations.
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