Ellsbury had a very good season for the Red Sox. In 134 games, he hit nine home runs, had 172 hits, reached home plate on the base paths 92 times, stole 52 bases, and hit for a .298 batting average.
He also did a very good job in the field throwing out advancing base runners and making superb catches. Ellsbury helped the Red Sox win the World Series and became a free agent early Tuesday morning.
Ellsbury has generated a lot of interest from teams following the World Series. “Scott Boras told me he's already received 11 phone calls on Jacoby Ellsbury from GM's around baseball.” Nick Cafardo, a National baseball writer for The Boston Globe, tweeted on Thursday.
The Red Sox sent him a qualifying offer contract one-year for $14 million on Monday, which he declined. With New York Yankees' second baseman Robinson Cano expected to re-sign with the Yankees, Ellsbury has become the most sought-after free agent.
Ellsbury has shown that he can be a very good five tool player: speed, arm strength, hitting for average, hitting for power, and fielding. In 2011, he hit a career-high 32 home runs and won a gold glove.
Boras told Jon Heyman, CBS Baseball Insider, in September that his client is better than Crawford was in 2010.
“Two things separate Ellsbury [from Crawford]. Carl Crawford was never proven as a leadoff hitter, and Carl Crawford is not a center fielder,'' Boras said. “They are two different animals. It's not a consideration because he's a corner outfielder. Just think if Carl Crawford could play center field.”
MLB analysts agree that Ellsbury is a great player, but there are some red flags.
The first red flag is that he is injury-plagued.
In only two of his seven MLB seasons, he has played in at least 150 games. In 2012 he played in 74 games and in 2013 he played in 134.
The second red flag is the age he is asking for a long-term contract.
Players typically tend to have their production decrease beginning at age 30. Ellsbury turned 30-years-old in September and is seeking a contract of at least five years.
He hit a combined 13 home runs the past two seasons after hitting 32 in 2011. Ellsbury's batting average did not exceed .300 after hitting for a .321 batting average in 2011.
The third red flag is his agent.
Teams tend to be hesitant about negotiating with Boras because of the contracts he is able to get his clients. Some of the player Boras represents include Yankees' first baseman Mark Texiera and third baseman Alex Rodriguez, and former San Francisco Giants' starting pitcher Barry Zito, according to http://bizofbaseball.com/BorasClients.htm.
Boras was able to negotiate contracts for his clients where the annual salary in the long-term contracts were at least $18 million.
According to Heyman, “Boras, in an interview with CBSSports.com, made clear what he thinks of the 'mid-range’ market strategy and where he thinks Ellsbury stands, saying, “’Free agency is like the Navy. You can have a number of mid-range missiles, but they only work as long as you have the aircraft carrier to put them on.’”
The Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, and the Houston Astros are considered possible landing spots for Ellsbury, according to Heyman.
Ellsbury declined a long-term contract that was worth at least $100 million after his superb 2011 season. Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com predicted on Monday that Ellsbury's contract will be seven-years, $150 million.