Coming off of a disappointing 2013 season, the Phillies will likely have a busy offseason ahead of them. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be taking a look at some of the players they might target.
Position: Center field
2013 Team: Boston Red Sox
Key 2013 stats: .298 AVG/.355 OBP/.426 SLG/9 HR/53 RBI
Since his rookie season of 2008, Ellsbury has been a dynamic presence for the Red Sox…when healthy. Typically batting out of the leadoff spot, Ellsbury has shown good on-base skills, stolen a lot of bases, and even mashed 32 homers in 2011 (although he hasn’t come close to matching that total since). In addition to his offensive prowess, Ellsbury has played splendid defense in center field.
The only problem is that Ellsbury hasn’t always been able to stay healthy. Both his 2010 and 2012 seasons were cut short due to injuries.
Why He Might be a Good Fit
The Phillies have a gaping hole in their outfield. Putting Ellsbury in center field would allow Ben Revere to shift to left field where he is better suited. Thanks to his on-base ability, he is also a better leadoff option than either Revere or Jimmy Rollins.
Why He Might Not be a Good Fit
Ellsbury bats left-handed, and that would make an already unbalanced Phillies lineup more so. He also wouldn’t come cheaply. The market for free agent outfielders was set by the recent extension signed by Hunter Pence, and they’d be competing against the Red Sox for his services. Therefore, the Phillies would likely have to pay a lot of money to a player over 30 who has had injury issues.
At first glance, Ellsbury would fit nicely in the Phillies lineup and make their outfield defense much better. But considering how much money he’s likely going to cost, they’d better be really sure about him. His lefthandedness and injury history are a couple of major concerns. Unless he can somehow be acquired for less than Pence received – and don’t hold your breath on that – I’d recommend looking into other options.