Could the answer be in Boston?
Nov 20, 2011, 11:30 PM | Updated: Nov 21, 2011, 12:24 am
Whether or not the Mariners should pay Prince Fielder has been a hot topic of late both here, on the air and in the blogs.
My feeling is that if the dollars for Fielder are what we think they will be then no, not under the current budget. I am not going to subtract to bring him on board and eat too high a percentage of the payroll for six, seven or even eight years to come. Now if payroll is increased, or if perhaps he will not command over $20-22 million a year and I know that Ichiro’s current salary is coming off the books in a year? Then I feel better about that kind of commitment.
What if Fielder is not an option? I know that some folks were excited about the possibility of a trade for Joey Votto. He would have been a great fit but it now appears the Reds are not willing to trade him. Want another option?
Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury had an MVP-caliber season in 2011, winning a Gold Glove while hitting .321 with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs. (AP)
Jacoby Ellsbury. Yes, I know he very well could be announced as MVP today but I still pick up the phone and make the call. The Red Sox trading Ellsbury might not be as far fetched as it initially sounds.
Like Votto, Ellsbury is two years away from free agency. Before this season, general manager Theo Epstein had made an attempt to sign him to a long-term contract and had expressed his desire to try again after this season. I think it is a long shot that anything gets done. Ellsbury is a client of Scott Boras and Boras is generally intent on getting his clients to free agency. Add to this the fact that Ellsbury will be 30 when he hits the open market in 2014, I don’t think he will want to push that further.
Unless Boston comes up with a very long-term contract, buying out much more than just the arbitration eligible years and a year or two after I can’t see happening.
There have also been rumblings about Ellsbury not having a great relationship with the organization. There was talk that he was miffed when he was moved from center field to left when they brought in Mike Cameron. There were grumbles when he elected to rehab away from the team in 2010. There are also reports that he was close to only one or two players in the the clubhouse.
A lot of this could be smoothed over by new management saying that they would be going in a new direction but I am not getting a sense that there is a Felix-like loyalty with him.
Now there is no question that the Red Sox can afford him. They easily could let him walk after his final arbitration year. The problem is, they have some serious needs right now that they may not be able to just throw money at. I am talking about starting pitching.
The Mariners have starting pitching. They have good starting pitching. Heck, they have great starting pitching. They have what looks to be good to great starting pitching less than a year away from the big leagues and more behind that. This is their strength and it may be time to deal from it.
From Boston’s standpoint, the conversation would no doubt start with Felix Hernandez. I don’t see the Mariners doing this. He is seen as the cornerstone of this organization and throw out whatever argument you want on this but one of the reasons why Jack Zduriencik insists that he is the one they will hold onto is because they know what he is. They know what he is on the field, they know him as a person, as a pitcher, they know what winning means to him and they know that he values being a Mariner and living in Seattle. I don’t think Felix would be on the table for this one.
But what about Michael Pineda? Yes, they value him too, but with Danny Hultzen and James Paxton on the near horizon he may be more replaceable. Not enough? Well, Boston has back end of the bullpen issues too so why not throw in Brandon League?
Two years of Ellsbury for five of Pineda. I don’t know. The need for the Mariners is the bat; they have the arms. How do you make this trade win/win? The key would be to get Ellsbury to sign an extension. Why sign one with the Mariners if he wouldn’t with the Red Sox?
Maybe being close to home (he is from Oregon) would be a factor. I have heard that he would like to play on the West Coast at some point of his career. Maybe the Mariners could sell him on the team building and being close to contention. Do you make the deal if you can’t get that extension? Do you take the chance that two years from now he likes the direction of the team and feels at home in Seattle? Again, how do you make this win/win?
This is kind of foreign territory for the Mariners. In so many past years the high caliber players were available but the Mariners did not have the pieces to even get into the conversations. They now have the pieces, and then some. If Ellsbury were available, what would you be willing to do?