CF Jacoby Ellsbury
Born: September 11, 1983 in Madras, Oregon (Age 30)
Major League Debut: June 30, 2007 (Age 23)
Teams Played For: Boston Red Sox (2007-2013)
By the Numbers:
2013 Numbers: .298/.355/.426/.781, 114 OPS+, 52 steals in 56 attempts, 5.8 WAR
Career Numbers: .297/.350/.439/.789, 108 OPS+, 241 steals in 287 attempts, 21.0 WAR
Previous Contract: 1 year, $9 million
Projected Contract: 6 years, $112.4 million, $18.7 million AAV, made $9 million in 2013
Pros- When healthy, Ellsbury is an outstanding five-tool talent. He’s led the league in steals three times, and is pretty efficient in doing so with an 84% success rate. He is an outstanding center fielder, averaging over 10 UZR/150 in the last four seasons. He has the ability to give you a parade of extra-base hits, even on the road. He’s one of the more valuable players in the game when healthy.
Cons- Ellsbury is very injury prone. In 2010 and 2012, he played in just 92 games due to rib and shoulder injuries. Freak injuries, yes, but it’s definitely a red flag. Also, in August he suffered a compression fracture but returned to the team a month later. But what’s more concerning is the history of giving long-term deals to players like Ellsbury who rely on speed. The Red Sox already made that mistake with the Carl Crawford contract.
Normally the first thing to decline in a baseball player in his 30s is his legs. Other than 2011, Jacoby has never been a power hitter. In fact, his numbers are pretty similar to Crawford’s when he became a free agent. Worst of all, his value is no doubt being juiced by that outlier 2011 season when he hit a whopping 32 HRs, batted .321 with a 146 OPS+, and led the majors in total bases, earning him the runner-up spot to Justin Verlander in the MVP balloting. Never in his career has he gotten even close to power numbers like that, and it’s unlikely he’ll come close again in his 30s.
Verdict- There’s justway too much risk to give him over $18 million per year well into his 30s. He’s way too injury prone, so his legs may go even sooner than Carl Crawford’s. Also, that much money is too much for a guy who has had only one season in his career to justify the contract. Also, Scott Boras is his agent, so you can bet he’ll be even more overpriced than projected. Pass on Jacoby Ellsbury. Let another team suffer the consequences.