The last time Ben Cherington worked the general managers meetings in Frank Sinatra’s old stomping grounds was seven years ago, when he was job-sharing with co-GM Jed Hoyer. The duo laid the groundwork then for one of the more monumental trades in recent Red Soxhistory: Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to the Marlins for Josh Beckett[stats] and Mike Lowell.
Cherington now is solely in charge and the only piece of that 2005 trade still in Boston, but one constant remains: The Red Sox [team stats] are going to be looking for an impact trade. That would mean trading center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury [stats], and while the odds never favor a blockbuster, the Sox have a recent track record of being very active on the trade front, large and small.
If they have not yet approached teams about Ellsbury, they should, listening to any and all inquiries. Sometimes, trade destinations crawl out of the woodwork at the oddest times and places.
The Jacoby Ellsbury decision is, simply, the most pivotal in Ben Cherington's efforts to turn around the Red Sox. He has three options:
1. Let him ride out the remaining year of his contract and hit free agency. Based on history, it's easy to assume we'll get an excellent year from Ellsbury given that he is in his prime and playing for a contract.
2. Attempt to negotiate a long-term extension before his deal expires, keeping Ellsbury in Boston for the what could be the remainder of his career. Based on Scott Boras being his agent, it's easy to assume that this might not be possible, or if it were possible, it would require eight to ten years and probably somewhere in the vicinity of $200 million.
3. Trade him.
I've argued in the past for trading him. I liked the idea better last year after what I believe to be an aberration of an MVP campaign, but it's still worth exploring.
The most popular rumor seems to be a deal with the Texas Rangers involving Elvis Andrus. The reason it's so popular is that it would appear to satisfy everyone's needs. Texas is brimming with money but isn't willing to spend it on Josh Hamilton, so they have a hole in their lineup. Meanwhile, they have uberprospect Jurickson Profar coming up at short. The Red Sox famously can't fill the hole at short, and with Andrus under contract for two more years, they would have some stability. He is a Boras client, so they'd face the same conundrum next offseason as they are with Ellsbury now.
Other names pop up -- Justin Upton being chief among them -- but I don't see any other deal popping up unless it is merely flipping him for near-major-league-ready prospects.
All of this said, I wouldn't expect the Red Sox to trade him. I think Ben Cherington might want to -- as that snippet at the top indicates, he's not afraid of a big move -- but I fear the business folks will get involved. Ellsbury drives the pink hat revenue stream; it might be scary to face the future without it.
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