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Rosenthal: Mariners could target free agent Jacoby Ellsbury

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They have the need and the money to make a legitimate long-term offer to the center fielder.

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Jacoby Ellsbury will be a free agent at season's end, and should have no shortage of potential destinations. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal suggests one such landing spot could be the Mariners, as a homecoming of sorts for the Oregon native.

Now, Rosenthal is speculating, but it's not as if Mariners' interest in Ellsbury is a brand new thing, either -- the two were associated in trade rumors this past off-season. Plus, as Rosenthal points out, the Mariners will have the funds to sign a high-cost center fielder if they feel the need:

The M's are deep in young, affordable position players, with a mere $33.257 million committed to their 2014 payroll, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Ellsbury, who is from Madras, Or., and attended Oregon State, could fill two voids, leading off and playing center field.

Plus, if the Mariners play just a little worse down the stretch, they might even end up with a protected top-10 pick, which would keep them from having to give up a first-round selection as compensation for signing Ellsbury. They currently have the 12th-worst record and are slated to have the 13th pick -- the Blue Jays have a compensation pick for failure to sign their first-round selection, Philip Bickford, that will slot in at #11. They have just one more win than the 10th-worst record, though, currently in possession of the Twins, and are only two victories up on the fifth-worst club, the Cubs. A lot could change over the last month-and-a-half of the season, in either direction.

The Red Sox don't necessarily need to worry about the Mariners -- it's hard to imagine they would offer a completely over-the-top-deal for Ellsbury, even if they had a protected pick. But, given they can submit a more than reasonable offer, are close to his Oregon roots at least in baseball's geographical terms, and might have a pretty solid club with the addition of Ellsbury and another player or two, there's plenty of reason to believe Rosenthal is right when he says they are a legitimate fit and suitor that Boston will have to deal with come November.

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