Jacoby Ellsbury breezed into Red Sox camp yesterday, one day before he was required to show up, and insisted he’d be open to discussing a contract extension during the season. Yeah, and Kevin Youkilis wants to dine with Bobby Valentine. By now, nine months before he’s eligible for free agency, the odds are non-existent that Ellsbury will forego the opportunity to test his value on the open market. And on the off chance the 29-year-old center fielder did consider it, his agent, Scott Boras, surely would disabuse him of the notion. It makes even less sense for the Red Sox to rush into a long-term deal with Ellsbury, especially since it was due only to the benevolence of the Los Angeles Dodgers last August that they were freed of a combined $296 million commitment to Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. The fact is, after this season, Ellsbury will work for the highest bidder, and the Sox are perfectly content to let the situation play out. After all, no player will be more motivated this year than Ellsbury, and a motivated Ellsbury can only be good for the Red Sox. “I don’t think it becomes a distraction for him,” manager John Farrell said of Ellsbury’s looming free agency. “Hopefully (it affects him) in a good way. I know he’s focused on his daily work and getting back on the field and demonstrating what he can do.” That didn’t happen nearly enough last season. Not after Ellsbury’s right shoulder crunched under the weight of Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Reid Brignac on April 13 at Fenway Park, causing a partial dislocation and sidelining him for 79 games. Even after his return on July 13, Ellsbury batted .278 with a .314 on-base percentage and four homers in 293 plate appearances, a far cry from 2011 when he was arguably the best position player in the American League.
Jacoby Ellsbury’s Sox future rides on big season
Boston Herald | Feb 15