Scott Boras: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox will wait for offseason to discuss contract
|07.15.13 at 3:55 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Agent Scott Boras, at the All-Star Game at CitiField where he has 11 clients participating, said that he does not expect to discuss the possibility of a contract extension for client Jacoby Ellsbury with the Red Sox and GM Ben Cherington during the season.
“Ben and I work together very well. He wants to focus on finishing the season and so do we,” said Boras.
Still, Boras believes that when Ellsbury does arrive at the end of the season — and becomes eligible for his first foray into free agency — the center fielder will be in excellent position to enjoy the rewards of the market. Ellsbury, who was hitting just .244 with a .303 OBP and .335 slugging mark through his first 44 games of the year, has seen his production take off since late-May. In his last 44 games, he’s now hitting .371/.433/.511 with 23 steals in 24 attempt, pushing his season line to a robust .305 average, .368 OBP and .422 slugging mark with an AL-leading 36 steals.
That’s a fairly drastic difference. What, Boras was asked, was responsible for the difference?
“Health. Jacoby’s shoulder was really something that, remember, Jacoby Ellsbury is a very durable player. He just has to make sure that people don’t run into him. The only time in his career he’s not been durable has been when someone ran into him, which has happened twice. And last year he came back early and played where his shoulder strength was not there,” said Boras. “We’re starting to see that. I’m starting to see where this is starting to turn and he’s starting to drive the ball with authority in the gap, the opposite way, and that shoulder’s getting stronger as we go. And he’s always been a tremendously strong, elite athlete as far as running, quick twitch, first step in the outfield. He’s just a rare player. With each month of this season, his batting averages are going up, his numbers are there, his on-base percentage … Look, it’s no secret that the Red Sox are where they are. Jacoby’s had a big part of that.”
Aside from his landmark 2011 season, in which Ellsbury had career highs in average (.321), homers (32) and slugging (.422) while finishing as the runner-up in the AL MVP vote, this has been perhaps Ellsbury’s best season. Even though he has just three homers this year, Ellsbury in his recent stretch has been impacting the ball with regularity, a slightly upgraded version of the dynamic player of 2008-09 (based on his improved extra-base hit frequency and OBP).
The performance, in turn, should position Ellsbury to capitalize in free agency, regardless of how many homers he hits. After all, Michael Bourn parlayed a 2012 season in which he hit .274/.348/.391 with speed (42 steals), Gold Glove defense and virtually no power (nine homers, 45 extra-base hits) into a four-year, $48 million deal.
“Whatever Jacoby does from the top of the lineup relative to home run power is not, that’s helpful but the main issue is that most players who are of Jacoby’s type, they don’t even know — it’s never there. They’re four, five home run guys. Jacoby, you know it’s there,” said Boras. “There may be years where he hits 20 home runs. There may be another year that he hits 20. And there may be years when he hits 10. The reality of it is you’re going to pay him for the melding of his power, but what you’re really paying him for is the ability to score runs and the ability to get on base and the ability to provide up-the-middle defense.”
Still, with another Boras client (Jackie Bradley Jr.) looming in the Sox system, there’s a sense that the Sox already have a successor to Ellsbury should he depart in free agency. But Boras saw a different possibility looming for Boston beyond 2013.
“I’m sure in the Red Sox board room,” he joked, “Ben [Cherington] is sitting there going, ‘Wow, we just can’t have Jackie and Jacoby and [Shane] Victorino in that outfield. They would be just too good defensively. It would provide too much production and speed. That would be such a horrible problem for us.’ “
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