Matthew Pouliot

Jacoby Ellsbury

Report: Red Sox could trade Jacoby Ellsbury, re-sign Cody Ross

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Upside, shmupside.

Sources told the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham that the Red Sox are considering trading Jacoby Ellsbury and re-signing Cody Ross to play right field, with the newly signed Shane Victorino taking over in center field.

Ellsbury, the runner-up for AL MVP honors in 2011, is a free agent after the season and is considered unlikely to sign a long-term extension before he gets to test the waters.

Ross would be a candidate to receive the sixth two- or three-year deal handed out by the Red Sox this winter. They’ve added Victorino ($39 million for 3 years), Mike Napoli ($39 million for 3 years), Jonny Gomes ($10 million for 2 years) and David Ross ($6.4 million for 2 years), plus they’ve retained David Ortiz ($26 million-$30 million for two years). Ross is believed to be seeking about $24 million for three years.

If the Red Sox actually go that route, their odds of returning to contention in the AL East in 2013 would seem to grow even longer. Ellsbury has been injured and ineffective two of the last three years, but he was flat-out awesome in 2011, hitting .321/.376/.552 with 32 homers and 105 RBI in 660 at-bats, and it’s not as though he has any chronic physical problems. Plus, he probably wouldn’t bring all that much in return since he has just the one year left on his deal.

A Red Sox lineup with Ross replacing Ellsbury would also seem to be very susceptible to right-handed pitching:

CF Shane Victorino – S
2B Dustin Pedroia – R
DH David Ortiz – L
1B Mike Napoli – R
RF Cody Ross – R
LF Jonny Gomes – R
3B Will Middlebrooks – R
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia – S
SS Jose Iglesias – N/A

Victorino has always been better against lefties, and he slipped all of the way to .230/.295/.332 against righties last season. Ross and Gomes are also far better against lefties, though Gomes could at least be platooned with Daniel Nava. Napoli, the other new addition, did hit righties better than lefties last year, and he has a solid .253/.347/.498 line against them in his career (.273/.381/.529 against lefties).

Report: Indians offered Shane Victorino $44 million

Shane Victorino
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Finally out from under Travis Hafner’s deal, the Indians tried going big for once, offering free agent Shane Victorino a four-year, $44 million deal, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

Victorino instead signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox, netting him an extra $2 million annually.

The $44 million would have been the biggest contract ever handed out in free agency by the Indians, and the second biggest deal in team history, behind Hafner’s four-year, $57 million deal that just expired. Kerry Wood’s two-year, $20.5 million pact signed four years ago rates as the team’s biggest outside expenditure to date.

It’d seem to be a good sign that the Indians have the money to spend, though one wonders where they might redirect it now. They don’t appear to be in on Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher (who would likely prefer an ocean view anyway). Adam LaRoche would make sense, but they haven’t been mentioned in connection with him. They could go after Cody Ross or Ryan Ludwick. It’s possible they’ll be in the market for two outfielders since Shin-Soo Choo is on the block.

Yunel Escobar a possibility for Rays, A’s and Red Sox

Yunel Escobar
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While there are bigger names out there to be had, perhaps no player is more likely to be traded this week than new Marlins infielder Yunel Escobar.

Escobar was mostly included in the Jose Reyes-Josh Johnson megadeal for salary purposes, and the Marlins have been intent on moving him since the day they picked him up from the Blue Jays. CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler says the A’s, Rays and Yankees are all interested, and FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi says the Red Sox are also in the running.

The A’s, Rays and Red Sox would all be looking at Escobar as a shortstop, while the Yankees would presumably use him at third base until Alex Rodriguez is healthy.

According to Knobler, the Marlins’ talks with the A’s regarding Escobar have centered on prospects Grant Green and Brad Peacock. Green, a former first-round pick, has experience at shortstop, second base and in center field. He hit .296/.338/.458 as a 24-year-old in Triple-A last season. Peacock, who was sent to Oakland from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez deal, was 12-9 with a 6.01 ERA and a 139/66 K/BB ratio in 134 2/3 innings in Triple-A last season.

One imagines the A’s would like to see what happens with Stephen Drew before they surrender a prospect for Escobar. They already have an offer out to him.

Red Sox gear up for 85 wins with Shane Victorino in right field

Shane Victorino
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In looking at Shane Victorino’s future last night, I concluded that he wasn’t a bad bet to last as a quality regular for a few more years, in spite of his down 2012 season.

Still, I wouldn’t have recommended wagering $39 million on it.

That’s the gamble the Red Sox took today in committing to Victorino for his age 32-34 seasons. At $13 million per year, it’s hard to imagine him being any sort of bargain. The best-case scenario would seem to have him being worth just what the Red Sox paid for him.

On the other hand, the Red Sox may well have been able to sign B.J. Upton for $16 million per year for his age 28-32 seasons. That comes with some risk as well, but at least Upton has several prime years left and has shown tantalizing glimpses of superstar potential. Victorino’s slide last year suggested that he may be just one or two years away from becoming a fourth outfielder.

So, no, I don’t get this deal. The Red Sox won 69 games last year behind three 90-win clubs in the AL East and a Toronto team that has taken a huge step forward this winter. They’re not a slightly above average right fielder and a quality first baseman away from returning to the postseason. It would have been worth rolling the dice with Upton or maybe even Josh Hamilton if his market didn’t play out as hoped, but barring that, they could have given Ryan Kalish a try and then reevaluated the position next winter.

In the last month, the Red Sox have committed multiyear deals to Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and David Ross to the tune of $34 million per season. They’re probably going to spend another $12 million or so per season on a starting pitcher from the Ryan Dempster genre. That they’re making the team better is a given. That they’re making it better enough to actually go anywhere in 2013 seems pretty unlikely.

Report: Dodgers willing to part with top youngsters for R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey
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John Harper of the New York Daily News reports the Dodgers are willing to send shortstop Dee Gordon and right-hander Zach Lee, their No. 1 pitching prospect, to the Mets for R.A. Dickey.

The Mets appear to be seeking two top young talents in return for their Cy Young Award winner, and Gordon and Lee isn’t such a bad offer. Still, it doesn’t fill the Mets’ needs as well as they’d like. The Mets already have a long-term shortstop in Ruben Tejada, and while one can never have too many top pitching prospects, the Mets would rather add a top young outfielder or a catcher. Or maybe both. As a result, it seems unlikely that they’ll take the Dodgers up on the offer.

Gordon, 24, opened last year as the Dodgers’ shortstop and leadoff hitter, but he struggled and got hurt. He ended up hitting .228/.280/.281 with 32 steals in 303 at-bats. In 2011, he hit .304/.325/.362 with 24 steals in 224 at-bats as a rookie.

Lee, 21, went 6-6 with a 4.39 ERA and a 103/32 K/BB ratio in 121 innings between high-A Rancho Cucamonga (a terrific hitting environment) and Double-A Chattanooga last season. He was the Dodgers’ top pick in the 2010 draft