Is an Ellsbury trade on the horizon?

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Is an Ellsbury trade on the horizon?

Last night, amidst the depressing darkness of 5:30 pm, it was reported that the Red Sox had reached a deal with 32-year-old, free agent outfielder Shane Victorino.

This report was soon confirmed when the Flyin Hawaiian himself tweeted that he "just agreed to join the Boston Red Sox" and this was followed by Clay Buchholz's wife tweeting out a photo of Victorino and her shirtless husband getting cozy on the high seas. (Were they on John Henry's yacht? This has yet to be confirmed, but if so, we can only hope the pair celebrated with caution. I've heard the deck can get pretty slippery on that thing.)

Anyway, back in Boston, the reaction was nowhere near as positive. In fact, it's probably best described as a mixture of anger, confusion and apathy.

Did they really just spend 39 million for three years worth of a light-hitting outfielder whose success has been predicated on speed, and is at an age when speed typically suffers a sharp decline? Are they really prepared to trot out an opening day outfield of Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Johnny Gomes? Has nothing changed in that front office? Is there any hope that these guys can actually save this ship from sinking, or will Red Sox Nation (only card carrying members!!) have no choice but to spend the next few years gasping for air while praying that the young Killer Bs Boegarts, Bradley, Barnes and Brentz will be ready sooner rather than later?

But through all the craziness, another option emerged.

The Globe's Peter Abraham reported that, with the addition of Victorino, the Sox were now open to trading Ellsbury. In fact, he said the front office had gone as far as to reach out to Cody Ross (and other right field options) to let them know that, even with Victorino, the Sox may still be in the market for a corner outfielder. Shortly afterwards, ESPN's Buster Olney chimed in with the following tweet: "Rival officials believe that the Red Sox are laying the groundwork for a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury, for the pitching they need."

Now, we all know better than to get too carried away with hot stove rumors especially when they surface smack dab in the middle of baseball's Winter Meetings. But at the same time, this isn't the first we've heard about a potential Ellsbury trade. In fact, it's been widely speculated for the better part of a year. And when you think about it, forking over three years and 39 million for a starting centerfielder (who, even in his older age, has remained solid defensively), makes a lot more sense than doing so for a corner outfielder who will struggle to hit 15 home runs.

So, maybe there is a method to Boston's madness? Maybe this is the first step in a chain of events that will culminate with the Sox second blockbuster trade in the last five months?

As always, only time will tell, but just for fun let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of saying goodbye to Jacoby Ellsbury:

Why trade him?

For starters, because either way, this is probably Ellsbury's last season in Boston. As we know, he's a free agent after this year; he employs one of the most evil and ruthless agents in the business; and it's very unlikely that the Sox will meet the outrageous demands of an injury-prone outfielder on the wrong side of 30.

If Boston plays out this season with Ellsbury in center, all they'll get in return for him signing elsewhere is a first-round draft pick (assuming they tender him an offer). A first-round pick ain't bad, but it's nowhere near what the Sox can get if they trade Ellsbury now. There's no doubt that a trade would leave them in a better place moving forward. And unless the Sox are 100 percent convinced that, with Ellsbury in center, they have a roster that can compete for a World Series THIS year, the future is all that should matter.

Of course, the natural question is: How much is a team actually going to give up for the rights to one year of Jacoby Ellsbury?

Regardless of where he ends up, there's no doubt that Ellsbury will still dip his toes deep into the free agent waters next winter. His future will still come down to the highest bidder, and no GM in the league would be willing to mortgage the farm in the name of that kind of uncertainty. (There's also the fact that, by trading Ellsbury now, in the aftermath of last season's disaster, the Sox would essentially be selling low on their star center fielder. But let's get back to the potential suitors.)

Why would a team be willing to give up something significant for Ellsbury? First of all, because when healthy, he's still one of the most complete players in the game. On top of that, if a team is even considering forking over the big bucks next winter, what better way to evaluate Ellsbury's worth than by bringing him in for a test-drive, getting to know him a lot better, seeing how he works within the framework of the clubhouse and the city, and then, either making him an offer that he can't refuse or moving on to other options with the confidence that you've done your due diligence and your money will be better spent elsewhere?

And when you look back at some of the names and the level of prospects that are thrown around during every MLB trade deadline in some cases for a mere two-month player rental it's fair to assume that the Sox will be able to get something worthwhile in exchange for Ellsbury. And at the end of the day, that's still better than just letting him walk next year.

So, who's in the market for a 29-year-old potential-superstar center fielder?

For one, Seattle might be a good fit, as Ellsbury is a native of the Pacific Northwest and a EllsburyFranklin GuitierrezMichael Saunders combo would give the Mariners one of the best defensive outfields in the game. There's also the fact(s) that, with Ichiro gone, Seattle could really use some star power; that they have a wealth of pitching down on the farm; and that, if Boston feels like getting crazy, the Mariners also have the most sought-after pitching commodity in the free world (King Felix).

As for the one-year rental, Sons of Sam Horn commenter "sketz" astutely points out that, with the opt-out in their TV deal fast approaching, the Mariners are rumored to be up for sale. In that case, it would make a lot of sense to try and drum up immediate interest while keeping the books relatively clean for 2014 and beyond.

Then there's Texas, who lost Mike Napoli, will probably lose Josh Hamilton, and has two legitimate arms (Matt Harrison and Derek Holland) that might look nice in the Sox rotation. The Ellsbury for Elvis Andrus rumor has been circulating for a while, as well. I'm not sure how realistic that is, but if so, why the hell not?

Aside from the Mariners and Rangers, the Phillies, Reds and Brewers are all in the market for a center fielder andor lead-off hitter. One of those three teams will likely land Michael Bourn, leaving the other two desperate to fill a void that Ellsbury would fill with ease.

Bottom line: Even if it's just for one year, teams will be interested, and at the very least, willing to offer Boston much more than the prospect of one (assuming the Sox don't win it all) wasted season of Ellsbury and a future first round pick.

And in that case, all signs and common sense point towards the Sox pulling the trigger on a deal. That is, assuming a potential deal exists. And of course, assuming a shred common sense still exists inside the front office.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

First impressions: Yankees power their way past Price, Red Sox

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First impressions: Yankees power their way past Price, Red Sox

NEW YORK -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees.

 

* As the postseason gets closer, David Price needs to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Price gave up three homers Tuesday night -- a two-run shoot to rookie sensation Gary Sanchez in the first; a solo shot to Didi Gregorius in the sixth; and another two-run belt in the seventh to Tyler Austin.

That's six homers in the last three outings and 29 for the season. It's also the sixth time this season that he's given up multiple homers in the same start, with the three on Tuesday representing a season-high.

Prior to this year, Price had never allowed more than 25 homers in a season. Last season, splitting time between the cavernous Comerica Park in Detroit and the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, he yielded just 17.

Worse, twice Tuesday the homers came at inauspicious times. In the sixth, the Sox had just closed to within one at 3-2; in the seventh, the Sox had worked t tie the game at 4-4.

 

* For all of the offensive brilliance shown by Mookie Betts, it's easy to forget how good he's been in right field.

Anyone who plays in the same outfield with Jackie Bradley Jr. runs the risk of having his defensive play overshadowed and that's likely the case with Betts.

He's played a Gold Glove-caliber right field, showing good range and instincts -- especially for someone who never played the outfield professionally until about 2 1/2 years ago.

And while Bradley has the stronger arm, Betts has 14 assists, including one Tuesday night.

That took place on a ball in which Betts was initially fooled. With one on, Chase Headley lined a ball to right that Betts seemed to lose in the lights. He went to his knees, fighting the lights, and managed to reach back to make the catch, sprawling. He then had the presence of mind to set himself and fire a throw to first, doubling up Starlin Castro for a mind-blowing double play.

 

* Expanded rosters make a mockery of the game.

In the eighth inning, Joe Girardi and John Farrell combined to burn through six players for one plate appearance.

Righty Blake Parker was set to face Aaron Hill, but Farrell had lefty Travis Shaw announced. Girardi then countered by bringing in lefty Richard Bleier to face Shaw.

Of course, Farrell countered by having righty Chris Young hit for Shaw. Young reached on a fielder's choice, and because Young can't play third, Farrell had insert Deven Marrero at third in the bottom of the inning.

Four position players and two pitchers in one spot. That couldn't be done in any other month during the season.

So why is it allowed in September?

 

Pomeranz scratched from last start, could pitch out of bullpen in playoffs

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Pomeranz scratched from last start, could pitch out of bullpen in playoffs

NEW YORK -- With the postseason just over a week away, it didn't appear that Drew Pomeranz was going to be part of the Red Sox' starting rotation.

On Tuesday, that became official.

Pomeranz was scratched from his last scheduled start of the regular season Thursday with some soreness in his forearm. Henry Owens will take his turn against the Yankees.

"He's come out of this last start (in Tampa Bay) a little bit more sore,'' said John Farrell. "There's been a need for additinal recovery time (and there's also) the total number of innings pitched. There's a number of factors.

"The forearm area is where he's experiencing some discomfort. He needs a few extra days. So combined with his career high in innings pitched (169.1), we're backing him out of his last start.''

Farrell emphasized that Pomeranz hadn't been shut down for the season, but did say that if the lefty pitched again, it would be out of the bullpen.

"We need to get him back on a mound,'' Farrell said, "hopefully by the end of the week to determine what role he'll have in the bullpen going forward.''

The fact that the Red Sox were a win -- or a Toronto loss -- away from clinching the division and have the luxury of being careful didn't have an impact on the decision to hold him out.

"You always put the player's health at the forefront,'' said Farrell. "Is this increased risk with the higher number of innings, or additional needed recovery time? You factor those in. This is independent of the standings.''

Pomeranz appeared to have been squeezed out of playoff rotation, with the four spots going to Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz.

In 13 starts, Pomeranz was 3-5 with a 4.68 ERA with the Red Sox after being obtained in a July trade with San Diego.

Two weeks ago, the Padres were disciplined for not fully disclosing all the necessary medical information with the Red Sox leading up to the deal, with GM A.J. Preller suspended for 30 days without pay.

It's unclear whether this injury is at all related to info the Padres withheld from the Red Sox.

"I can't really comment on that,'' Farrell said. "I do know what the player needs is some additional time. What's attached to that previously, I really don't have the specifics.''