Heading into this off-season basking in the glow of their third World Series title in a decade, much of the Red Sox dialogue centered around, “What should GM Ben Cherington do?”
Would he sit tight and be fiscally responsible? Or would the Red Sox make a splash?
Of their four major free agents -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Jarod Saltalamacchia -- there were really only two questions:
Would they resign Ellsbury and Drew? It was a foregone conclusion that Napoli would return, and once they didn’t offer Saltalamacchia arbitration most figured he’d sign elsewhere.
Perhaps the question wasn’t what Cherington would do, but what would Major League Baseball’s supreme general manager, Scott Boras, do?
Yes, GM Scott Boras, as opposed to the villain uber agent, Scott Boras.
Most people assume, correctly. that Boras’ clients like Ellsbury and Drew will go to the highest bidder. But what they fail to understand is that there are many financial reasons why Boras clients often have to leave.
It was widely reported that Ellsbury would leave when he hit free agency and likely sign with the Seattle Mariners because they had money and were closest to his home in Oregon.
Instead Ellsbury took the top money regardless of geography and signed with the New York Yankees. Most reported it was all about the money, when it was more likely about the money for ... Jackie Bradley, too.
He is a Boras client on the cusp of baseball’s grand stage and ready to begin his six-year free agency clock. If Boras allowed Ellsbury to re-sign with the Red Sox, he would have effectively blocked Bradley from playing center field in Boston and New York.
If Bradley remained with the Sox he’d have been a good-fielding, average-hitting, left-fielder with no power. As a top-rated defensive center-fielder, who hits close to with .300 with a good on base percentage, hitting from the left side of the plate, they can look to Ellsbury and his $20-plus million per year.