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Why the Red Sox Should Have Never Offered Jacoby Ellsbury for Cliff Lee

Jacoby Ellsbury (Getty Images)

So far in the Winter Meetings, the Red Sox have been aggressive with the signings of Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, and Koji Uehara. Still, one of the biggest topics is Jacoby Ellsbury, who remains with the team, for now. When the Sox signed Victorino, questions surfaced of what the Sox will do with Ellsbury. The latest proposal involved sending Ellsbury to the Philadelphia Phillies for starting pitcher Cliff Lee.

When asked about trading Ellsbury, Ben Cherington replied, “That’s not our intent. We’re expecting Jacoby to have a really good year in 2013 and be a huge part of what we’re doing. You answer the phone and take the calls and listen to ideas. But our expectation is Jacoby will be here and be our center fielder.”

According to Jim Salisbury of, the Phillies rejected the Lee-Ellsbury swap. Frankly, the Sox are lucky they still have Ellsbury and should stop trying to trade him.

Looking at the Red Sox current lineup, Ellsbury is one of the most well-liked and respected players on the team. Ellsbury is coming into Spring Training healthy and will be determined to regain his value to show that he can bring back the numbers he posted in 2011.

If Ellsbury can avoid any injuries, he is in for a big season. When he manages to play more than 130 games in a season, he has an average between .280 to .320. Ellsbury has had a few freak injuries, which has caused concern about whether it would be risky to sign him or when would the best time to trade him. The concern is if Ellsbury does play this year and he has another injury, his value will plummet. But if the Sox were to decide to trade him and he posts MVP numbers, the blame game would swirl around, starting with Ben Cherington. The assumption is that with his value as high as it is now, it would be best to trade him. But, Ellsbury provides a substantial impact to the lineup as the leadoff hitter.

Lee is an outstanding pitcher who would bolster a weak Sox rotation. Right now, Jon Lester is the ace of the Sox staff. If Lee was acquired, he would jump into the ace position. But, Lee is still owed $96 million dollars over four years. If Lee was shipped to Boston and he failed to live up to expectations, he would become the latest $100 million man to fail with the Sox.

Right now, the Red Sox are going in a good direction with filling a few of their needs in the Winter Meetings. Still needing a starting pitcher, the Sox will find a way to acquire one. Just don’t trade away Ellsbury to do so.

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