When Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury becomes a free agent this winter, the Seattle Mariners may be a team to keep an eye on. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Mariners "appear well-positioned to make a run" at Ellsbury on the free agent market.
The M’s are deep in young, affordable position players, with a mere $33.257 million committed to their 2014 payroll, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Ellsbury, who is from Madras, Or., and attended Oregon State, could fill two voids, leading off and playing center field.
The addition of Ellsbury would upgrade the defense, ignite the offense and energize the fan base. The M’s struck out on Josh Hamilton last offseason. They might have a better shot with Ellsbury, whose agent, Scott Boras, generally seeks the best market deal.
Ellsbury, who turns 30 in September, is expected to receive a high-dollar, multi-year contract as the best free agent outfielder on the market.
The Red Sox have not discussed an extension with him so far this season, but may try to retain him once he hits the open market.
With top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. as Ellsbury's heir-apparent in center field, the Sox are not expected to break the bank to re-sign their current center fielder.
Because of this, he will receive significant interest from many teams looking for a five-tool player this winter.
Because Ellsbury is represented by Scott Boras, he will demand a significant payday from any team after his services. As Rosenthal notes, the Mariners have money to spend, and could be considered a favorite due to their status as Ellsbury's hometown team. The Cubs, led by Theo Epstein-- the man who originally drafted Ellsbury in the first round of the 2005 draft, are also expected to aggressively pursue the speedster and make him one of the centerpieces of their rebuilding effort.
In 110 games on the season, Ellsbury has hit .301 with 7 HR and 43 RBI. In seven years with the Sox, he has a .298 average with 63 HR and 304 RBI, but over half of those home runs came in 2011, when he finished second in the American League MVP voting with a line of .321, 32 HR and 105 RBI.