Scott Boras, Jacoby Ellsbury, & the Mets


In a recent discussion with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Scott Boras, who represents pending free agent Jacoby Ellsbury, had the following to say about his client’s worth:

"Two things separate Ellsbury [from Crawford]. Carl Crawford was never proven as a leadoff hitter, and Carl Crawford is not a center fielder.  They are two different animals.  It’s not a consideration because he’s a corner outfielder.  Just think if Carl Crawford could play center field.  Carl Crawford never had success in Boston.  And he never won a ring in Boston.  Crawford never hit 20 home runs, and Jacoby hit 30."

Being that the Mets should be (and are indeed rumored to be) interested in signing Ellsbury during the offseason, Boras’ comments are relevant in this space.

After his age 28 season, the Red Sox handed Carl Crawford a seven year, $142 million dollar deal.  The deal was viewed as psychotic at the time, and Crawford (with injuries being a contributing factor) was a bust in Boston before being dealt to the Dodgers prior to this season.

Sep 5, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (2) hits a ground rule double to deep right allowing a runner to score and a man to advance during the third inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Ellsbury is a decent comp for Crawford, but he’ll be a year older when he signs his free agent deal, and has an injury history that Crawford didn’t have when he entered free agency.  Boras pointed out in his comments to Heyman that Ellsbury’s injuries were freak in nature.  That may be, but that doesn’t erase them from existence.

Scott Boras’ job is to build up his clients in an effort to land them the largest payday possible.  He’s known to create pamphlets that compare his clients to some of the best players who have ever played the game.  He’s the man who’s often behind the “mystery team” rumors, and the man who never shies away from a debate.

While some of what he’s saying regarding Ellsbury is unarguable (his ability to play center field and bat leadoff), there are also some things Boras touted that should be ignored.

The first, is the fact that he’s citing Ellsbury’s 30 homer season as one of the reasons why he’s worth more than Crawford.  Starting with his first full season, here are Ellsbury’s home run totals by year: 9, 8, 0 (played 18 games), 32, 4 (injury shortened), and 8 (this season).  Boras is entitled to say whatever he wants, but touting Ellsbury as a power hitter is laughable.  His 30 homer season is an outlier, not the norm.

In addition, Boras also cited the fact that Ellsbury won a ring in Boston, while Carl Crawford didn’t.  While Ellsbury had a great Postseason in 2007 during the Sox’ second title run in four years, Boras knows as well as anyone that World Series Titles are team dependent.  It’s not Crawford’s fault he joined a Red Sox team that was in disarray.

Jacoby Ellsbury is an extremely valuable player.  In an average season, he’ll hit .297 with a .350 OBP, 108 runs scored, 35 doubles, 7 triples, 15 homers, 71 RBI’s, and 55 stolen bases.  However, Ellsbury is exiting his prime.  He deserves to be paid handsomely, but an $142 million dollar deal seems outrageous.

From what’s been written, it seems that most executives feel that Ellsbury will land with the team that offers him six years guaranteed.  If that’s the case, it then comes down to the AAV (average annual value) of the contract.  Ellsbury is making $9 million this season in what was his final year of arbitration.  He certainly deserves a raise, but a seven year, $142 million dollar deal would pay him $21 million dollars annually.  Ellsbury will eventually get what the market will bear, but I would be stunned if any team offered him Carl Crawford money.  That’s not to say that Ellsbury isn’t as good as Carl Crawford.  Rather, it’s to say that Ellsbury doesn’t deserve to benefit from the idiocy that resulted in the Crawford deal.

If I were the Mets (who have a good relationship with Boras), I’d offer Ellsbury a six year deal worth $16 million annually.  That would bring the total worth of the contract to $96 million dollars.  The Mets would also need to take Ellsbury’s pulse as far as his willingness to move from center field to left field.  With Juan Lagares in the fold, the Mets’ intention should be to keep him in center field while flanking him with two premium additions from outside the organization.  Additionally, if Ellsbury is willing to move from center, it takes away some of his value.

It’s unknown whether Boras would be amenable to such a circumstance (the Mets asking Ellsbury to move from center field).  If he is, fantastic.  If not, the Mets should move in a different direction.  They could explore signing Shin-Soo Choo, make a trade for a high impact bat, or consider signing Curtis Granderson (who will be 33 next year and will likely cost much less than Ellsbury in terms of both dollars and years).

Ellsbury would be a great fit with the Mets if he’s willing to move from center field.  He would fill one of the Mets’ gaping holes in the outfield, and would slide in as the team’s leadoff hitter.  If Ellsbury is willing to change positions, and Boras’ insane contract demands aren’t met by an overzealous general manager looking to make a splash, Ellsbury could land in Flushing.  If not, the Mets have other options.

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