Jacoby Ellsbury [stats] is one of the most dynamic players in baseball, and his 2011 forever will rate among the great seasons in Red Sox [team stats] history.

None of that should stop the team from trading him this winter.

As the Red Sox embark on a plan to improve the 2013 club without hurting their chances in 2014 and beyond, the idea of trading Ellsbury on one level seems ludicrous.

The Sox are better with him in the lineup, and as he prepares to enter free agency, there's every chance he'll author a monster season. Thirty homers, 50 steals, a batting title — no possibility should be discounted.

If and when he then departs in free agency, the Red Sox would receive a compensatory draft pick. Keep him, play him, get a fantastic season, and then acquire a piece for down the road.

Makes perfect sense.

Except if the Red Sox truly are taking the long view, they should trade Ellsbury now for an asset that might help next year (like a starting pitcher), but more importantly in the ensuing seasons.

He is, quite simply, the most valuable trade commodity on the roster, a four-tool outfielder with a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He's also a mercenary with little chance of remaining in Boston beyond next season.