Jacoby Ellsbury: The Red Sox Need to Extend Him or Trade Him in 2012

Christopher Benvie@CSBenvie81Correspondent IIMarch 7, 2012

FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox poses for a portrait on February 26, 2012 at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

What would the Red Sox be without their budding superstar, Jacoby Ellsbury?

While it may seem blasphemous to say out loud, the reality of the situation is that Ellsbury very well could be ending his tenure in Boston earlier than most fans are ready to accept.

I know what you're thinking. Ellsbury is under team control through 2013, which is true. However, outside of the departed Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox organization has shown in recent past that they do not like to play the arbitration game with their young talent.

See: Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and to a lesser extent, Josh Beckett.

This is where Ellsbury comes in to frame. The 28-year-old has proven himself to be an asset to this team by being an explosive offensive and defensive force.

The front office needs to look around and read the tea leaves.

The San Diego Padres just locked up their 24-year-old centerfielder, Cameron Maybin, to a five-year $25 million extension.

The Pittsburgh Pirates followed suit and locked up their star 25-year-old centerfielder, Andrew McCutchen, to a six-year $51.5 million contract extension.

A trend is starting to happen.

Sure, the Maybin deal carries an average annual salary of $5 million, while McCutchen's average is a little over $8.5 million annually, but that places both players in roughly the same (more so in McCutchen's case) salary bracket as Ellsbury.

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 27: Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox (R) celebrates after driving in Marco Scutaro #10 on a home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 27, 2011 in Baltimore,
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The problem is, neither player has performed like Ellsbury.

While all three are young and have relatively small Major League experience, Ellsbury proved his dominance in 2011.



119 212 32 105 39
Maybin 82 136 9 40 40
McCutchin 87 148 23 89 23

As you can see from these figures, offensively, in five key categories, Ellsbury was the better player. 

The only category in which Ellsbury came in second among his peers was in stolen bases, swiping only 39 to Maybin's 40.

While these five categories don't tell the whole picture, the batting line does offer a bit more insight as to how effective these players were at the plate:

Ellsbury .321 .376 .552 .928
Maybin .264 .323 .393 .716
McCutchen .259 .364 .456 .820

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Elvis Andrus #1 of the Texas Rangers catches Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox as he tries to steal second on September 2, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Now, McCutchen has been a favorite player of mine since entering the league. I like what the kid does; he has a ton of potential.  He is also the closest statistically to Ellsbury in this chart.

Maybin, while still young, can improve upon his plate discipline, something I'm sure the Padres are banking on seeing from the youngster as his contract matures.

Jacoby Ellsbury is slated to make $8.05 million in 2012. While that is certainly not a pittance, it is not an upper-echelon caliber contract either.

For a better comparison, the Red Sox need to look across the coast to the OTHER MVP runner-up from 2011 and look at the contract he just signed with the Dodgers for eight years and $160 million.

His agent isn't even Scott Boras.

Check out these head-to-head figures:

Ellsbury 119 212 32 105 39 .321 .376 .552 .928
Kemp 115 195 39 126 40 .324 .399 .586 .986

Call me nuts, but that there is a pretty significant comparison. I see it. You see it. Jacoby Ellsbury sees it. More importantly, Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras, sees it.

Historically, Boras likes to get the most money he can for his client. There is really no reason to believe that would change in the case of Ellsbury.

Carl Crawford has a $20 million deal and put up about half as much production at Ellsbury in 2011. Think about that.

This is a situation where if the Red Sox are intent on keeping him in a Boston uniform, they're going to need to shell out some serious coin, and they should do it before the end of the 2012 season. If they don't, you can bet that Ellsbury will be counting the days until he can really cash in.