BALTIMORE — Multiple reports have the Giants agreeing to a five-year, $90 million deal with right fielder Hunter Pence.
That would seem like excellent news for Jacoby Ellsbury.
Pence is 30 and has a career OPS of .814. He has played to a 4.2 WAR this season. Pence has shown consistent power (164 home runs over seven seasons) and has 22 stolen bases this season.
Ellsbury is 30 and has a career OPS of .788 and has played to a 5.7 WAR this season. He has shown little home run power outside of the outlier 2011 season but has consistent speed and is a better defender. He also plays a premium position.
If Pence can get an average annual value of $18 million without going into the market, Ellsbury will almost certainly be worth $20-21 million a year over six or seven seasons once he becomes a free agent.
Scott Boras, who represents Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, will control the market for outfielders this winter.
The Red Sox are in an advantageous position financially and also have an attractive fall-back solution in Jackie Bradley Jr. (also a Boras client, naturally). Would the Sox go nine figures on a player who has missed 263 games the last four seasons?
Boras correctly points out that Ellsbury’s injuries have been the result of accidents. But he has missed an average of 66 games the last four seasons and will be asking for six or seven guaranteed years.
The Red Sox are 18-9 in games Ellsbury has missed this season. That’s only 17 percent of the season, but it could be a factor in deciding against entering a bidding war.
Regardless of how it plays out, Ellsbury is sitting in a good spot. Going into the market paid off for Jonathan Papelbon two years ago and Ellsbury is walking the same path.