ORLANDO, Fla. — Agent Scott Boras said Jacoby Ellsbury has an unusually high number of teams interested. He did not, of course, list those teams.
The Red Sox are one of those teams. It is believed the Rangers, Yankees and Cubs have discussed Ellsbury with Boras. The Seattle Mariners, according to reports, are not interested. But that isn't necessarily indicative of much on Nov. 13.
“The number of premium players at that level who get to free agency now are rare and teams recognize that,” Boras said during a wide-ranging discussion with reporters . “I think they view those players as difference makers. … It's a real opportunity for a franchise.”
Boras is marketing Ellsbury and another free-agent client, Shin-Soo Choo, as being able to hit third in a lineup.
“They have the power to bat third. They can drive in 90 runs batting first, second or third. So their offensive thrust is not confined to the top of a lineup,” Boras said.
“And [Ellsbury] being a world champion not once but twice, says a lot about who you are in a locker room, who you are on a team, and the ability to play in a major market. All of those things play into a very different evaluation.”
Ellsbury has hit third 10 times in his career, all during the disjointed 2012 season under Bobby Valentine.
Boras had an explanation as to why Ellsbury hit 32 home runs in 2011 but has only 13 over 880 at-bats in the two years since.
“The fact is that Ells conditioned himself and did things to become what he needed to become to help [the Red Sox], this style of team. That was stealing bases, being a leadoff hitter, being on base and getting to second base as much as possible," he said. "That’s really what he geared himself to.”
Ellsbury’s skills require little burnishing. But another Boras client, Stephen Drew, hit .253 in the regular season then was 6 for 54 in the postseason.
Boras pointed out that Drew’s .777 OPS was fourth among shortstops and his defense was well above average.
He suggested that the key to Cherington’s successful plan for rebuilding the Red Sox centered around the signing of Drew.
“Wherever Stephen Drew goes, he ends up in the playoffs,” Boras said.
Boras arrived armed with quips. When asked whether the penny-pinching Mets had been more active, he smiled.
"The Mets are like NASA. They have big rockets, a lot of platforms and very few astronauts," he said. "Astronauts are hard to find. They got one guy with the right stuff, that's for sure. They've got a lot of Armstrongs, too. But they're certainly a club I'm sure that's in pursuit of a higher level of talent."
Boras also took a jab at the Rays: "I would say a tale of two cities. The one they're in and the one they should be in."
"It's just really something for the fans of the Tampa Bay area, they need a new ballpark, they need to address that. Certainly the bell's been answered by the organization as far as putting a product on the field that would normally attract fans.''
Boras even had a suggestion where the Rays could go.
"I think there's a lot of cities that may attract them," he said. "I don't know, maybe New Jersey would like that winning percentage.''