Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has starred all season long (.298 BA, 53 SB). He made that star shine even brighter (9 for 18, 4 SB) in the ALDS against Tampa Bay. It appears, though, that Ellsbury's star may have to shine somewhere else in 2014.
The Boston Herald's John Tomase reports that the Red Sox are not willing to sign Ellsbury to the eight-year contract that he will likely seek as one of the premier free agents this offseason. Tomase says that the team is more willing to give a four-year deal to the 30-year-old speedster, but they do not want to commit beyond that because of the potential loss of speed as Ellsbury reaches his mid-30's.
Speed and on-base average is Ellsbury's game. Even though he has missed substantial time in three of the past four seasons due to injury, he is still one of the best base runners in the game. Sooner or later, though, those injuries could catch up with him and slow him down significantly. Tomase reminds us of a similar player, Carl Crawford, whom the Red Sox signed to a seven-year, $142 deal beginning in 2011. That deal strapped Boston for cash until, as Tomase puts it, "Magic Johnson recorded the greatest assist of his life" by trading for Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and others mid-season last year.
Boston has already extended second baseman Dustin Pedroia for eight years and $109 million through 2021.
In addition, NBC Sports.com's Craig Calceterra cites baseball insider Ken Rosenthal as predicting that Ellsbury could sign a six- or seven-year deal with the Seattle Mariners. That is only a rumor at this point, but Ellsbury's agent -- Scott Borus -- will not settle for much less.