According to MLB Trade Rumors -- whose text message alerts are both a blessing and a curse on days like this -- the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury signed a one-year, $8.05 million deal, a large raise from 2011's $2.4 million. Given the 32 homers he hit last year are 10 more than he had in his entire career prior to this last season, we can't say we're surprised about his new pay.
The end is not yet in sight for Boston's arbitration-eligible players, as deals for David Ortiz, Daniel Bard (in his first of four years of arbitration, rather than the standard three), Mike Aviles, Alfredo Aceves, and new Red Sox pitcher Andrew Bailey all still need to be settled, but at least one of the big ones is out of the way.
Ellsbury finished second in the Most Valuable Player vote in the American League, losing out to Detroit Tigers starter Justin Verlander. Against any other opponent, his 32 homers, .321/.376/.552 line and above-average defense in center would have been an easy vote, but Verlander had himself a pretty epic season on the mound, with the league lead in innings (251), strikeouts (250), ERA (2.40), ERA+ (170), games started (34), and hey, even in wins. That's right: the best pitcher managed to lead in wins for once. Sometimes it happens!
Second place nets you a pretty nifty raise, though, and Ellsbury's checks will be all the larger in 2012 for his efforts.
Ellsbury has one more year of arbitration after this one, and before he is a free agent. While his free agent contract is expected to be massive -- early bets from this author put them in the Matt Kemp range of eight years and $160 million -- Boston will have him for probably roughly $20 million total over the last two seasons there. Whether or not the Red Sox will re-sign him is a story for another day (and year), but enjoy what is essentially a bargain for Ellsbury's production while you can either way. (I know, because of the arb system, he's not really a "bargain", but were he a free agent, his cost would be through the roof. You should smile more often.)
The Red Sox also avoided arbitration with Mike Aviles today. John Tomase reports that Boston will pay him $1.2 million, a raise from last year's $640,000 in his first year of arbitration. Aviles is expected to be a backup infielder and (at least a piece of) the lefty-mashing portion of a right field platoon with Ryan Sweeney.