Tuesday, Ben took a look at the off-season budget crunch the Red Sox face after this season ends.
Looking back at arbitration cases, Tom Tango has shown that second year arbitration awards tend to be around 50-60% of a player’s expected free agent compensation price. What price would the free market assign Jacoby Ellsbury? Based soley on his fWAR, fangraphs puts Ellsbury’s 2011 dollar value at a ridiculous $36.5M. I doubt even Scott Boars would claim the centerfielder should be paid anything near that. Averaging his value over the past four seasons with the same dollar-win figures, gives us a far more reasonable price of $16.6M. That will be much closer to the salary Ells might land as a free agent and
The arbitration board does not use fWAR or fangraph’s dollar-win pricing model, however, even if
The first point of consideration is fairly easy- Ellsbury has been the lead-off man and offensive sparkplug for
Among the arbitration eligible for next season, there is just one centerfielder, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. Jones is making $3.25M for 2011, more than Ellsbury’s base salary of $2.4M, but he is a poor comparison at this point. The only other centerfielder to be arbitration eligible this year would have been an excellent comparison- the Ranger’s Josh Hamilton.
Will the Red Sox or baseball’s arbitration board value Ellsbury that much?
It is difficult question to answer. Jacoby’s 2011 season doesn’t allow for many other comparisons. By fWAR, he has already passed 2007 NL MVP Ryan Howard in value. Howard’s $10M figure is the highest arbitration award given to any position player. However, Howard lead the league in home runs and in RBI’s that season and helped an underdog Phillies team reach the playoff with an incredible September performance. He had also won the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year award. Ellsbury hardly even played in 2010 and his 2008 season was only good enough to give him a third place finish in
By way of comparable players, it does become a bit clearer. Much like
Regardless whether Ellsbury takes the Sox to arbitration or settles with them, it is clear that he will be receiving a salary bump of at least 100-150% for next season. It is possible he and Boars will seek a record breaking number. The Red Sox have tried hard to avoid arbitration, but Ellsbury’s case is becoming a perfect storm. When the 2011 season ends, this will be one of biggest stories of the off-season.
What will Jacoby Ellsbury make next season?
MVP award in hand, Ellsbury gets a record setting $10M+ from arbitration (76 votes)
Ellsbury gets a deal/award worth $8M-$9M (164 votes)
Ellsbury and Boston settle for a two year deal around $17M (172 votes)
Boston beats the super agent soundly, Ellsbury makes just $5M or so (19 votes)
431 total votes