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Tigers could address their leadoff woes with Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo

Oct 20, 2013, 10:05 PM EDT

ALCS - Boston Red Sox v Detroit Tigers - Game Five Getty Images

Free agent-to-be Jacoby Ellsbury was part of the Red Sox arsenal that helped knock the Tigers out of the playoffs. “If you can’t beat ’em, sign ’em,” the Tigers must be thinking. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that, given the Tigers’ lack of success with Austin Jackson atop the lineup, they could pursue Ellsbury during the off-season. Cafardo also names Shin-Soo Choo, who spent the 2013 season playing center field and leading off for the Reds.

You may be able to add free agent Jacoby Ellsbury to the list of potential leadoff hitters the Tigers could bid on. Another Scott Boras free agent, Shin-Soo Choo, is also a candidate.


“That’s the one team we haven’t heard Ellsbury’s name mentioned with,” said one American League general manager. “We’ve heard a lot about the Mets, Mariners, Rangers, but the Tigers make perfect sense. They are a big-market team with big resources. There’s a relationship with Scott and Mr. Ilitch. They’ve done business before and there’s no reason they can’t do business again.”

Ellsbury suffered a broken foot in early September when he fouled off a ball. He sat on the bench for three weeks, then came back at the end of the season just in time to join the Red Sox for the playoffs. He finished the regular season with a league-leading 52 stolen bases in 56 attempts while hitting .298. In 45 trips to the plate during the 2013 post-season, Ellsbury has a .400/.467/.525 line along with six stolen bases in seven attempts. He is a high-ceiling kind of player, valued at five or more Wins Above Replacement in the last three years, according to Baseball Reference.

Despite the perception, the Tigers actually had the fourth-highest OPS (.751) out of the lead-off spot in the batting order during the regular season among American League teams. Jackson led off in 127 of 162 games.

  1. Old Gator - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:12 PM


    • dcfan4life - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      Woah, thats how its spelled???

      • cktai - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:48 AM

        It is actually spelled gesundheid.

    • theskinsman - Oct 21, 2013 at 5:53 AM

      If they don’t want to keep Scherzer,I can see them making a run at Ellsbury. But without Max, they don’t make the playoffs.

  2. pastabelly - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    The Tigers probably need him more than the Sox. He is the player most likely to leave Boston. It’s too bad because Bradley is nowhere near ready and Victorino is better off in right. Boras rules lead him to the Mariners or Tigers.

    • dan1111 - Oct 21, 2013 at 7:36 AM

      Of all the places they might upgrade, I don’t see why the Tigers would choose center field. Austin Jackson is a good, young, inexpensive player. He hit fine this season and was very good last season. He even hit well against Boston in the ALCS. Ellsbury would be much more expensive and only a slight upgrade at best.

      • albertmn - Oct 21, 2013 at 8:54 AM

        If it were Choo, no one said he would have to play CF if the Tigers signed him. Choo played CF this year, but is a better fit at a corner spot defensively. They could have Jackson in CF and Choo in LF or RF, which make Choo a better fit. If you added Ellsbury, you could easily move one of the guys to LF or RF and at least make your OF defense better than average, since your IF defense isn’t great. Imagine how good that Tiger rotation might be if they could play defense.

      • dan1111 - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        @albert, yeah, signing either of them to replace a corner outfielder would make some sense. Maybe that is what they have in mind. Because the article focused on their dissatisfaction with Jackson, I assumed they wanted to replace Jackson in center.

  3. contraryguy - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Choo is becoming that hot daughter whose virtue a weary dad is tired of protecting… how much guys? How much to tap that Choo?

  4. xpensivewinos - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    Isn’t some of that “Boras familiarity” in the form of their 25 mil a year first baseman whose contract they probably regret right about now?

  5. Glenn - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    The Series hasn’t even started yet and you’re already talking about Ellsbury leaving. Can you let us Boston fans enjoy the rest of this wonderful season first?

    • jcmeyer10 - Oct 21, 2013 at 6:49 AM

      I’ve been listening to Tony Masseroti talk about it for the last 2 years, haha.

  6. xjokerz - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    welcome to Detroit, ellsbury

    Ajax Leftfield, Hunter Right, Ellsbury center, Miggy 3B, Castellanos 2B, Igleasias SS, Fielder 1B, Vmart DH


    • weaselpuppy - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:52 PM

      Castellanos can’t even play 3rd at a AA level…he has absolutely zero chance of playing 2b. None. Nada. Zilch.

      • pappageorgio - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:54 AM

        Not saying 2B is a realistic option.

        But NC isn’t playing 3B at Erie because they’re teaching him LF because he’s blocked. Not because he wasn’t handling it.

  7. normcash - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    Not a bad idea….

  8. weaselpuppy - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    Ellsbury would be awesome to have….but I don’t see the payroll flexibility making the assumption on two things

    1) Scherzer re-signing

    2) Miggy re-signing.

    The latter is very likely. Trading Max for a big package would be painful to see, but might balance the payroll long term given they would spend less on Fister, promote Smyly to the 4 slot and get some depth from their trade suitor. Castellanos? Show me you can hit MLB pitching and we’ll find you a spot…

    • xjokerz - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:05 AM

      i cant see Mr Illitch letting Scherzer go.

  9. sportsfan18 - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    The Tigers had the 5th highest payroll this past season at over $149 million. The LA Angles with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton’s contracts were only 7th in team payroll at $142 million.

    The Phillies were 3rd this past season and we know their window has already shut.

    If the Tigers aren’t careful, they’ll turn into what the Phillies are now in about 3 to 4 yrs…

    Prince Fielder is owed $24 million per season until his age 36 season in 2020.

    Verlander is owed $20 million next season and then $28 million per season thru 2019, his age 36 season.

    Miggy is only making $22 million a yr for the next two seasons ($2 million LESS than Fielder each yr). Miggy’s contract will be up after his age 32 season after the 2015 season.

    If Miggy doesn’t fall off a cliff in the next two yrs, they’ll almost have to resign him and I’m betting he’ll make MORE than Fielder who will be making $24 mill per season thru 2020.

    Do the Tigers resign Max Sherzer? If so, he’ll make at least $20 million a season especially if he wins some hardware like the Cy Young award this yr as he should.

    Now, if they sign Ellsbury…

    Fast forward to 2016 or 2017 and it isn’t hard to see the Tigers past their window and still paying dearly for it.

    The Phillies finished 81 and 81 two yrs ago and well out of and below .500 this past season. They were 3rd in payroll this past season and they will be very high next yr.

    The Phillies have 7 players next season in 2014 who will make a combined $119,500,000 alone. Of course they still need to pay the rest of the team.

    Just how bad is that $119,500,000? That amount for their 7 highest players was HIGHER than the entire team payroll of 21 MLB teams this past season.

    The Tigers are well on their way to becoming the Phillies of 2017 to 2020.

    Doc was a great pitcher but Father Time is undefeated. Verlander will have to slow down eventually (not for many yrs but I’m talking about 2018, 2019 etc…).

    Fielder hasn’t been injured like Howard, but it isn’t difficult to see Fielder NOT aging well.

  10. vincentbojackson - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:57 AM

    Shin-Soo Choo is a great lead off man, but he’s very average in the field. Asking him to hold down that huge Comerica center field is a recipe for disaster.

    • dan1111 - Oct 21, 2013 at 7:38 AM

      “Very average” is a hugely generous description of Choo’s defense. The Tigers are already a defensive disaster; that is the biggest single area of their team that needs upgrading. It would be mind-boggling if they signed Choo to play center.

  11. weaselpuppy - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:38 AM

    Choo would play LF, which is also large, but not CF. He could move to RF in 2015 and Castellanos starts full time in LF after a platoon w/Dirks this year or some AAA time.

    Castellanos according to team sources won’t be going back to 3b regardless of Miggy moving off it, getting hurt or any other reason.

    I don’t see them trading Max either, but you never know. Their max payroll long term is around $165MM-ish.

    Miggy and Biggy need to shift to 1b and DH after 2014…may happen, may not. Should.

    • dan1111 - Oct 21, 2013 at 7:40 AM

      They need to shift to 1B and DH about two years ago!

  12. jayquintana - Oct 21, 2013 at 3:36 AM

    Isn’t the bullpen what they should first address?

  13. cmbrown15 - Oct 21, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    People are right — the window is closing for Detroit. I hope that the team hangs on to Max Scherzer and goes all in for 2014. As a Tigers fan, I’d prefer to see Choo in LF instead of Ellsbury; I like both but I expect Ellsbury will be the more expensive and the less durable over time.

  14. stex52 - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    I go with Jay. Fix that bullpen first. Jackson is not that bad.

  15. rcali - Oct 21, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Just keep throwing money at the problem Tigers. Team chemistry is overrated.
    -Arte Moreno

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