Jacoby Ellsbury Rumors
The Red Sox and Scott Boras haven't discussed an extension for Jacoby Ellsbury so far this season, sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. The outfielder will be eligible to hit the open market after the 2013 campaign.
Ellsbury is earning $9MM in his walk year after going through his final arbitration-eligible offseason. The outfielder is off to a slow start through 45 games this season, and some have openly wondered if the distraction of his impending free agency is partly responsible for his .242/.307/.335 slash line.
The 29-year-old, who ranks third on Tim Dierkes' free agent power rankings, will have to pick things up if he hopes to cash in this winter. Ellsbury is hoping for a repeat of his amazing 2011 season where he hit .321/.376/.552 with 32 homers and 39 steals with a career high 732 plate appearances. ESPN's Buster Olney recently wrote that it would "be a crusher" to Ellsbury if he continues at his current trajectory, noting that he could have pushed for a $100MM contract with a return to those 2011 numbers.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Yankees will now be partners in a new Major League Soccer franchise, as announced on MLB.com. "We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York -- and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy," stated Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. This isn't the Bombers' first foray into the world of soccer as they had a marketing partnership with Manchester United during their "YankeeNets" phase. Here's a look at tonight's other news from the American League East..
- Ben Francisco's days with the Yankees may be coming to an end, opines Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog. The 31-year-old outfielder has struggled to provide an impact in New York, hitting for just a .114/220/.182 line in 50 plate appearances so far this season.
- Jacoby Ellsbury has not played as the Red Sox would have hoped in his contract year, notes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Lauber compares Ellsbury to Red Sox teammates Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, as both performed below expectations during their final seasons before hitting free agency. Ellsbury is off to a .241/.303/.335 start in a league-leading 208 PA.
- Lauber also discusses how the two-year, $10MM deal Jonny Gomes signed with the Red Sox has affected the outfielder. While Gomes has gotten off to a slow start in 2013, Lauber argues that the security of a multiyear deal has helped the 32-year-old focus on providing leadership to younger Red Sox players.
Braves lefty Eric O'Flaherty has a torn UCL and will likely need surgery, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). GM Frank Wren tells O'Brien (also via Twitter) that the Braves are unlikely to make an immediate trade to replace O'Flaherty in the bullpen, noting that Wren doesn't expect other teams to trade top relievers this early in the season. Here are more notes from around the East divisions.
- The Mets have not yet discussed the possibility of acquiring first baseman Daric Barton, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says (on Twitter). Sherman writes (also via Twitter) that a Mets employee says the team will likely at least consider Barton, however. The Athletics designated Barton for assignment Saturday afternoon. Mets first baseman Ike Davis has struggled terribly this season, posting a line of .160/.245/.267.
- Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury might be distracted by his impending free agency, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald suggests. Lauber quotes Mike Napoli, who discusses how pressures from friends and family during a contract year can take a player out of his comfort zone. "I could see where guys, because of that free agent year, if you start off rough, it’s like you want to do so good that you’re overdoing it," Napoli says. Shane Victorino says that he hasn't noticed Ellsbury overburdening himself, however. Ellsbury is hitting .247/.312/.346 so far this year.
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner says this season has been "amazing" so far, Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger reports. "I didn’t but into the doomsday scenario that many people did. Because I knew that we had some good kids at Triple A. But more importantly, I knew that the guys we got in the offseason were veterans," Steinbrenner says. "[T]his is what you expect veterans to do." Newly-acquired veterans Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay have played key roles in the Yankees' 27-16 start.
- Steinbrenner tells McCullough he won't address manager Joe Girardi's contract until after the season, but Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News argues that Girardi deserves a new contract now, given his performance as the team has struggled with injuries.
After a 20-8 start to the 2013 season, the Red Sox have dropped nine of their past 11 games and now find themselves in third place. General manager Ben Cherington's squad is still just three games out of first place but will need to snap their skid promptly to keep up in the AL East. Here are some Sox-related links for your Wednesday afternoon...
- ESPN's Buster Olney appeared on the Mut & Merloni radio show in Boston, and Jerry Spar of WEEI.com has some of the highlights. "It's going to be a crusher" for Jacoby Ellsbury if he continues this season on his current trajectory, says Olney. Ellsbury, who ranks third on Tim Dierkes' free agent power rankings, is hitting just .256/.321/.363 through 39 games. Olney wonders if Ellsbury would gamble on signing a one-year deal rather than settling for a fraction of the $100MM he could have pushed for with a repeat of his 2011 numbers.
- Within that same interview, Olney discussed Boston's decision to trade for Joel Hanrahan this offseason, noting that the Red Sox knew there were some health issues at the time of the trade. Many teams were aware of the issues with Hanrahan, which is why the Pirates didn't get much of a return for their two-time All-Star. Hanrahan joins a long list of players that must re-establish their value before getting paid, says Olney.
- Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston takes a look back at last summer's blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, noting that Loney has departed to the Rays, Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Jerry Sands were included in the Hanrahan deal but Allen Webster and Rubby de la Rosa have looked good. Edes runs down each player the Dodgers received as well as the future financial implications for the Sox. "This will be a good deal for the Dodgers only if they are playing in October," Edes writes. "It may be years before we know how good a deal it was for the Red Sox."
Earlier today, the Cubs confirmed last night's reports of a seven-year extension for Anthony Rizzo. At today's press conference to announce the move, general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters, including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, that the deal was first discussed in Spring Training, and talks accelerated in the past 10 days (Twitter link). Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago adds (also via Twitter) that the contract was actually finalized last week; Rizzo took his physical his physical on the Cubs' off-day. Here's more on the Cubs in what will go down as a critical day in their franchise's history...
- Jeff Samardzija's agent Mark Rogers tells Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago that there are still no talks on the extension front with his client. The two sides will re-visit discussions in the offseason to see if they can hammer out a long-term deal Samardzija is controlled through the 2015 season. The Cubs consider Samardzija "one of their upper-tier starters of the future," writes Levine.
- Selecting a pitcher with the No. 2 pick in this year's draft "appears to be a sure thing," Levine adds. Stanford right-hander Mark Appel and Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray are the consensus top two arms in the draft right now, though Levine doesn't list any specific names.
- In addition to extending Samardzija, signing one other free agent starter this offseason "seems essential" to Levine. That would give the Cubs a pitching core of Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, the pitcher selected second in the 2013 draft, and a solid free agent, with another high draft pick in 2014 likely on the horizon. Here's a look at all of the available 2014 free agents.
- David Kaplan of CSN Chicago offers a similar sentiment, stating that fans should expect the Cubs to spend on free agency once again this coming offseason. Multiple Major League sources, including an AL front-office executive, told Kaplan they expect the Cubs to be in on the top free agent names this offseason, including Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury, of course, was drafted by Cubs president Theo Epstein when he was GM of the Red Sox.
- MLBTR collected some reactions to Rizzo's extension from around the web earlier today, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Let's start the weekend up with a poll. As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted recently, two young stars (Adam Jones and Miguel Montero) signed significant extensions during May of 2012. While there have not been significant rumblings about any similar deals recently, the Jones and Montero deals both sprung up with relatively little advance buzz: Jones said he was not aware of any talks with the Orioles just a month before his six-year, $85.5MM deal was inked. And the build up to Montero's five-year, $60MM extension consisted largely of the Diamondbacks' acknowledgement that the team was open to in-season negotiations.
Jones had one year of arbitration eligibility remaining when he signed, while Montero would have become a free agent at the end of the year. Both were relatively young (26 and 28, respectively) and fairly well established as above-average players at premium defensive positions. And each had been with their teams for all or virtually all of their big league careers.
With those deals in mind, let's take a look at some generally comparable position players who could be positioned for similar deals. We will not include Robinson Cano, as he is at a different level of performance and contract extension, along with being somewhat older. Anyhow, we already asked MLBTR readers what they think about the likelihood of a Cano extension. Likewise, we'll leave out Chase Headley, given his recent comments. (Also, MLBTR readers just weighed in on a possible Headley extension, with the majority believing a trade was more likely than an extension.)
The Nationals' Ian Desmond, 27, has continued to build off of his emergence last year. He sports a .296/.311/.530 line, although he has also registered seven early errors. The shortstop has spent his entire career in the former-Expos organization, and is poised to hit the open market in 2016. We know the Nats are open to negotiating an extension with Desmond, and the Elvis Andrus signing provides a relevant (albeit imperfect) point of reference.
Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters is another obvious candidate. He will turn 27 later this month, and is looking at free agency in 2016. Ongoing negotiations between Wieters and the O's are seemingly at a simmer, but could pick up at any time. While Wieters is off to a bit of a slow start, slashing just .224/.297/.388 to date, he also probably had less to prove this season than Desmond.
Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox, 29, is similarly situated to Montero. He has played his entire career in Boston, but is set to become a free agent after the season. While the center fielder has not returned to his MVP-level 2011 season, when he exploded for 32 home runs, he has bounced back from his injury-shortened 2012. Thus far, his batting line (.286/.338/.405) and league-leading steal totals (11) are right in line with his strong 2008-2009 seasons. While both player and team appear interested in discussing an extension, Ellsbury's representation by Scott Boras -- and the possibility that he could significantly raise his value with an injury-free 2013 -- could make a deal unlikely.
Jason Heyward of the Braves is two years from free agency at just 23 years old, but as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes notes, the cost-conscious Braves could look to extend him. Heyward is currently on the DL after undergoing an appendectomy, and has had a poor start to the year. Nevertheless, he has established himself as few big leaguers have at his age.
Austin Jackson, the Tigers' center fielder, is a young 26 and still two years from free agency. He is also a client of Scott Boras. But his strong early track record could make him a target for Detroit to try and lock up early. With so many big-money free agent deals on the books, it could make sense for the Tigers to try and save on Jackson by guaranteeing him money in advance. Jackson is off to another good start, putting up a .293/.356/.407 line to go with five steals.
"He's more like a [No.] 4 starter for me now," a scout said to ESPN's Jayson Stark after watching Roy Halladay's bizarre start for the Phillies last night, in which he allowed five earned runs, six hits, and three walks while striking out nine in 3 1/3 innings against the Braves. It seems likely that Doc will slide down our 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, as he tries to reinvent himself with a less-effective fastball. On to today's East links...
- "It’s great baseball. It’s the beginning of a new era for us and it’s exciting," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told reporters including Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post before last night's game. The Marlins do have a pair of exciting players on the big league roster in Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, but they're also brimming with replacement-level guys. Outside of Stanton and Fernandez, I'd say the Marlins have one of baseball's least-exciting teams to watch.
- Roberto Hernandez's start today for the Rays ended a streak of 1,207 straight games without using a free agent starting pitcher, according to the team. The last one was Hideo Nomo in July 2005, which predates the current front office by a few months.
- "You have examples like CarGo, Weaver, Andrus, Varitek — there’s a ton of examples of guys that have signed before [free agency]," explained Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to WEEI's Alex Speier in the wake of Elvis Andrus' new contract. "[Agent Scott Boras] gives you advice, but it’s up to you to make your own decision." Ellsbury may be the top available free agent position player in free agency, if Robinson Cano signs before then.
- Earlier today, the Yankees released David Aardsma, the Orioles claimed Josh Stinson, and the Nationals signed Chris Young.
While many players entering their walk years opt to table contract talks until after the season, Jacoby Ellsbury says that negotiations on a new deal won't be a distraction for him, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “I know that [the Red Sox] talk [to Scott Boras] not just about me but other guys [on the team]..If there’s something to be discussed regarding me and the future, that’s when it’s brought to my attention — not every little conversation,” said Ellsbury. “There might be talks that I won’t know every little detail, but if there’s something, a decision to be made, that’s when I would get involved and go from there.” Here's more out of the AL East..
- While some are pushing the panic button on the aging Yankees, Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger has five reasons to believe in the Bombers this season. Politi reasons that the Yankees always seem to get production from unlikely places, and the recently-acquired Vernon Wells could be the latest example.
- The Yankees are a team in turmoil, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. While the Yankees have been known to have a touch of frenzy as Opening Day approaches, the club's last-minute roster shuffling is cause for concern.
- More from Sherman, who makes an out-on-a-limb prediction for each New York team this season. For the Yankees, Sherman suggests a midseason deal sending Andre Ethier to the Bronx for Jose Ramirez and Mason Williams. Sherman reasons that the Yankees will want to boost their offense and find a replacement for Curtis Granderson while the Dodgers will have Yasiel Puig waiting in the wings.
Here's a look at items out of the AL and NL East..
- Jacoby Ellsbury insists that the Red Sox aren't evaluating him differently because of his injury history, writes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. "They know how it happened," he said. "What I went through wasn't the result of me not being prepared or anything like that. Two contacts: One, I collided with a guy [Adrian Beltre]. The other I got cannonballed on [by Reid Brignac]."
- Just as the Mets did with Francisco Rodriguez in 2011, Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog believes the club will do whatever is necessary to keep Johan Santana from triggering his option. However, it seems unlikely that Santana will pitch the 215 innings necessary to guarantee a $25MM salary in 2014.
- If Ellsbury is concerned about his next contract as he heads into his walk year, he's not showing any signs of it, writes MLB.com's Ian Browne.
- In an Insider only piece for ESPN.com, Jim Bowden praises Nationals GM Mike Rizzo for his strong offseason. While the Nats didn't necessarily need another closer, they went out and got another one anyway in Rafael Soriano while the Tigers thought they could get by with rookie Bruce Rondon at closer. Bowden writes that it's not hard to imagine a scenario in which Soriano is the difference in a Detroit-Washington World Series.
Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio predicts Kyle Lohse will sign with either the Brewers or Rangers as one of five moves which will happen this spring (Insider subscription required). Bowden also sees extensions for Adam Wainwright and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Here's the other Senior Circuit news and notes from the first Sunday of Spring Training:
- Count the Phillies out as suitors for Lohse as GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is prepared to go with the staff he has in camp, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
- Lohse will only become of interest to the Cardinals if their rotation candidates aren't panning out during Spring Training, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman in a piece outlining six reasons why the Redbirds remain playoff contenders.
- One reason for the Cardinals making the postseason in three of the last four years is being ranked as one of the NL's top four teams in terms of innings pitched by the starting rotation, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goold notes this year’s rotation is set to include four starters, beyond Wainwright, who combined have just one 190-inning season.
- The Mets could use catcher John Buck as trade bait once they promote Travis d'Arnaud in the opinion of ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin, who cites the precedent of when David Wright took over at third base.
- Bill Madden of the New York Daily News cautions the Mets to be prudent with their newfound financial flexibility if they dive into next year's free agent outfield pool. Madden lists Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, and Hunter Pence (all ranked in the top ten of MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings) as possible targets.