In-season contract discussions for Ellsbury unlikely, GM Cherington says

Published On May 23, 2013 | By Sarah Kirkpatrick

Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said during an appearance Thursday on the Dennis & Callahan Show on WEEI that the team is unlikely to discuss a contract with struggling center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury during the 2013 season.

Ellsbury will be eligible for free agency following the conclusion of the 2013 season. In each of the past three seasons, Ellsbury has gone through arbitration, and while there have been discussions regarding potential extensions, the sides have settled for a one-year deal each time.

“During those talks, you talk about a lot of things. You talk about other options, other contract options, other sorts of scenarios,” Cherington said. “We’ve had those conversations. It’s just, in this case, we agreed before the season that we would defer it until the end of the season. That’s our expectation right now. You never say never. Things can change. But our expectation is we pick up the conversation after the season.”

Ellsbury was drafted by the Red Sox with the 23rd overall pick in 2005. Since his first appearance in the majors in 2007, Ellsbury has been a significant part of Boston’s offense, batting a career line of .293/.347/.434. He finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2008 — a year in which he had a .280 batting average and 50 stolen bases.

In 2011, he hit .321/.376/.552 and played stellar defense, earning him a spot on the All-Star squad and Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards.

Last season was marred by a shoulder injury, and Ellsbury appeared in only 74 games.

Though Ellsbury is healthy this season, his hitting woes have continued with a sub-par .249/.318/.340 so far in 2013. He is showing improvement recently, reaching base in six of his last seven plate appearances; however, his high strikeout and swing-and-miss rates are a point of concern.

Despite struggling in the first quarter of the season, Cherington said he thinks Ellsbury has simply been dealt a dose of bad luck and can turn it around quickly.

“It’s a combination of things … He’s been a little bit unlucky on balls in play — hit some balls right at people,” Cherington said. “There’s nothing really alarmingly different in the underlying numbers — the strikeout percentage and the swing-and-miss rate. He’s still compact. He’s still doing a lot of things that he’s always done well.”

Should Ellsbury get some of that luck back, he could earn his way into a multi-year deal with the Red Sox. But the team is unlikely to take a chance on him if his underwhelming play continues.

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About The Author

Sarah is a Seattle native studying journalism at Boston University. She covers track and field, cross country and women’s hockey and is Sports Editor at The Daily Free Press, BU’s independent student newspaper. You can follow her on Twitter at @Kirkpatrick_SJ.