Outfielder to hit free agency with big money in mind

As many expected, free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has declined a 1-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Boston Red Sox, making him officially available to take offers from other organizations.

Ellsbury could potentially sign a contract with any Major League ballclub now, and it most certainly will be a hefty agreement.

Boston can still negotiate with Ellsbury and his agent, Scott Boras, if they choose to. But Boras’ track record of getting every penny out of teams could scare away teams who don’t have the deepest pockets, considering what the market suggests Ellsbury could get.

Many speculate that Ellsbury will get a deal that exceeds $100 million in a multi-year contract. ESPN baseball insider Buster Olney said Ellsbury has declined a similar deal from Boston in the past, specifically after the 2011 season.

Boston has a recent history of big free-agent signings not panning out. The seven-year, $142 million deal they made in 2010 with oft-injured outfielder Carl Crawford, who now plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is the wet blanket of all of them – and folks in baseball don’t think Boston ownership and management will go down that road again.

With hot prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. ready to become an every-day outfielder in the big leagues, and the stable of other outfielders that will figure in to next season’s platoon, that adds even more to the unlikelihood Ellsbury stays in Boston and instead plays for his second Major League team.

At this point, however, that team is anyone’s guess.

It should also be noted that Ellsbury isn’t even considered the top prize in the 2013 free-agent frenzy. Robinson Cano, who statistically has been a more productive player than Ellsbury over the past few seasons, is considered the big prize.

If Ellsbury is to sign with another team, that team will forfeit its first-round draft choice, unless it has one of the top 11 picks.

In return, the Red Sox would get a draft pick in the sandwich round of next season’s draft, which occurs between the first and official second rounds.

All three qualifying offers Boston management made – to Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Ellsbury – were all declined within a week after they were filed.

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