It’s clear that the Mets will need some outfield help next season. Juan Lagares has a tremendous glove in center field, and will probably remain there because of that upside. Eric Young, Jr. played well in his time with the Mets, but his strength lies in is his speed and stolen bases – his batting average and OBP were only .251 and .318, respectively, for the Mets.
Many fans have thrown out the names of Carlos Gonzalez from the Rockies and Shin-Soo Choo of the Reds, among others, as candidates for the corner outfield spots in 2014. Some have also mentioned Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox. While Ellsbury is a true talent, the Mets may not want to make a huge push for him.
Since coming up with the Red Sox in 2007, Ellsbury has been a tremendous talent while patrolling both left and center field at Fenway Park. Three different times, Ellsbury has led the American League in steals, including this season in which he had 52. He has excelled at the top of the lineup and has posted a career .350 OBP, a great number for someone at the leadoff position.
In 2011, Ellsbury had his best season to date, finishing second in the American League Most Valuable Player voting. That season, he drilled 32 homers, drove in 105 runs, hit .321 had on OBP of .356. If the Red Sox did not have a late season collapse and reached the postseason, he may have been able to take home the hardware.
Not only are his offensive attributes on point, Ellsbury also plays a tremendous outfield. During his incredible 2011 campaign, he was able to pick up a Gold Glove for his defensive work. This season his range is on full display again – his UZR is 10.0. He has great range and can get over to many balls in the gap – seemingly a perfect fit for the expanses of Citi Field.
While Ellsbury has all of the talent in the world to play Major League Baseball, there is one flaw that sticks out in his game. Ellsbury has had a tough time staying on the field, and has been on the disabled list multiple times since 2007.
After becoming a full-time player in 2008, Ellsbury has been able to play 150 games in a season only twice, in 2009 and 2011. In 2010 he played in just 18 games, and last season only managed to suit up in 74.
At the end of this season, Ellsbury suffered a compression fracture in his foot, which limited his playing time in the final weeks of the regular season. It was the same injury that his teammate Dustin Pedroia suffered in 2010, and Pedroia had after effects into the 2011 season.
Some may say that Ellsbury has had a rash of freak injuries that weren’t due to a weak or injury-prone body. While some of this might be true, like his leg injury in 2012, it should still be a concern for the Mets. Since 2009, the Mets have had injury problems seemingly every season, with many star players missing time in some form or another.
It’s no secret that Ellsbury is a five-tool player. The guy can do it all, when he’s healthy. While it may be a good idea to try to sign a guy like Ellsbury, it might be smart to think about his downside first. If he’s injured for the majority of the time, he certainly won’t be worth the deal he’s likely to receive.