Jackie Bradley Jr. is the logical choice to replace Jacoby Ellsbury in center field. Credit: Getty Images
Jacoby Ellsbury was the most likely member of Boston’s free agent class of 2013 to flee, so it wasn’t entirely shocking to learn Tuesday night that he will no longer be making his baseball home at Fenway Park. What came as a shock to most was the destination, The Bronx, New York, as the Yankees had previously hinted that they wanted to stay under the MLB luxury tax of $189 million. Add in that little part about the Red Sox and Yankees having, arguably, the most heated rivalry in North American sports history, and the move was quickly deemed “stunning” by most.
The Red Sox now must find a center fielder, though they could still choose to promote from within. Jackie Bradley Jr. is the likely successor to Ellsbury in center. While he showed plenty of promise, particularly early in the 2013 season, Bradley Jr. finished with just a .189 batting average in 107 plate appearances.
If Red Sox GM Ben Cherington wants to go the free agent route, there are still outfielders available. One intriguing possibility is signing Yankees free agent Curtis Granderson, who at 32-years-old is looking for a three-year deal. The Mets are currently the front-runners in the Granderson race.
Shin-Soo Choo has also been linked to the Red Sox in recent days, as the Sox like his high OBP.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Tuesday that outfielder Carlos Beltran has a “three-year, $48 million” offer "in-hand," but the team offering the deal has not yet been revealed.
If the Sox stand pat this winter, Shane Victorino could man center field as that is his natural position.