One of the hottest, highest-priced free agents this winter is Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and it's with good reason that he's in such high demand.
Ellsbury is a rare blend in center field and is truly a guy with five-tool potential when he's fully healthy. But the health has been a major question mark over Ellsbury's career in Boston.
The thing is, the Rangers have themselves an Ellsbury starter kit in 25-year-old Cuban Leonys Martin, who emerged as an everyday player in 2013 while playing primarily in center. Where Ellsbury goes, he's going to play center field, and the Rangers feel Martin has a bright future there.
Well, the Rangers have made their decision. They're out on Ellsbury and the likely nine-figure contract he'll demand, and several teams will be willing to pay. If the Rangers go after an outfielder this winter, it needs to be one that can help replace the projected loss to Nelson Cruz, meaning someone who can hit the ball out of the yard and drive in runs.
Martin is the same type hitter as Ellsbury, as well. Sure, he's not as good as Ellsbury, but who's to say he won't be? And who's to say Ellsbury will be healthy enough for the remainder of his career to make a huge deal worth the signing team's while?
Martin has shown he can hit for average with moderate power and can be a terror on the base paths. He's also proven to have one of the better outfield arms in the game and is deadly accurate from center, an advantage he already has on Ellsbury.
What it boils down to for the Rangers is this — why spend $100 million on a 30-year-old center fielder whose game is based around his speed when you can spend $5 million a year on a 25-year-old that does the same thing and could eventually become as good as the former? There's no reason, and the Rangers won't be doing it.