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Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew come up big in possible Fenway finales

Oct 31, 2013, 1:06 AM EDT

World Series - St Louis Cardinals v Boston Red Sox - Game Six Getty Images

As the Red Sox celebrate their third World Series victory in a decade Wednesday, the likelihood exists that several key players won’t be back in 2014.

Red Sox free agents this winter include Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Ellsbury and Drew in particular delivered big games on Wednesday, with Ellsbury reaching three times and scoring two of Boston’s six runs. Drew went 2-for-4 and homered to snap a postseason-long slump that had led some to call for his benching.

Of Boston’s free agents, those two seem the least likely to return. Ellsbury is in line for the second biggest contract of any free agent this winter (behind Robinson Cano), and the Red Sox have a center-field replacement ready in Jackie Bradley Jr. Drew likewise can be replaced by a youngster, Xander Bogaerts. The Red Sox will probably make Drew a qualifying offer, giving him the chance to return on a one-year, $14.1 million contract. However, he should be able to get at least a three-year deal as the top shortstop in free agency.

The Red Sox don’t have such ready-made replacements for Napoli and Saltalamacchia and could be more aggressive about re-signing them. They’ll certainly have plenty of flexibility, particularly since they can go cheap in center, shortstop and at third base.

One spot the Red Sox won’t have to worry about: Koji Uehara in the closer’s role. While the deal he signed last year was reported as a one-year pact, it included a $4.5 million option for 2014. The Red Sox will be on the lookout for some additional setup help, but the ninth appears locked down.

  1. drewzducks - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:24 AM

    Hey Matt, Ross signed for 2 years at 6.25M

    • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:34 AM

      For some reason, I really thought this was the second year. I guess I completely erased the second Kelly Shoppach era from my memory.

      • crispybasil - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:14 AM

        Never forget.

  2. wheels579 - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    Sox fans who crapped on Drew all year should feel some shame. I can only imagine what they said about Lackey over the last two years too. Drew came up big whether clowns like Sabatimus recognize it or not.

    • rrsm53 - Oct 31, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      why should we feel shamed, Drew was hurt, then didn’t hit when he came back then did fora little while and then in the playoffs pretty much couldnt hit an elephant in the ass standing behind one. So go save your opinion for people who care. Bye bye Drew be real.

      • ltpm3 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:04 PM

        Maybe he was having trouble with the bat but his defense was much better than anyone else who made the playoffs in that position. He saved runs from scoring or even getting to base often than expected. His defense was outstanding!!

    • tfbuckfutter - Oct 31, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      So we should never be critical of players who perform well below expectations, especially when they are wildly overpaid and hurting the team in both the financial aspect and the on-field performance, because we may end up looking stupid when they end up having an unexpectedly good season, or hit a homerun in a World Series game that didn’t actually affect the outcome of the game?

      • ltpm3 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:06 PM

        He may have batted below your expectations but if his defense was below expectations there is something wrong with you. Drew saved many game with his defense alone.

  3. RE LEE - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:50 AM

    Tonight they are all Red Sox. Don’t spoil the magic.

  4. Walk - Oct 31, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    Congrats the city of boston, the team and its fans. Of course you know there may be a bit of animosity around the league next year as all the other teams just lost beer and chicken privileges.

  5. delusionalcardsfan - Oct 31, 2013 at 2:44 AM

    SAWWWXXX!!!!!

  6. 7mantel - Oct 31, 2013 at 7:42 AM

    Sorry to see Red Sox fans rioting and destroying private property !

    • jm91rs - Oct 31, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      Tens of thousands celebrating, less than 10 arrested for being stupid. I’d say that’s as good as any city could hope for after a World Series.

      • 18thstreet - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:03 AM

        Boy, isn’t that depressing?

  7. Joe - Oct 31, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    After completely losing confidence in Salty during the WS, I think the Red Sox will let him go. He’s been holding the spot for Ryan Lavarnway the last couple of seasons. I expect they’ll give Lavarnway a shot with Ross as his caddy. They might be hesitant to put three rookie (or rookie-like) players in the everyday lineup, in which case they might sign a short-term solution and let Lavarnway have more time in AAA, where he didn’t exactly light it up last year (though he did hold his own in Boston). There’s a few guys like Navarro, Pierzinski and perhaps Kurt Suzuki who might be a good fit.

    I think they’ll make good with Napoli and resign him for 2-3 years. There’s not anybody in AAA who is ready to move up, and Napoli looks like the best of the FA crop.

    The 2014 rotation looks pretty deep right now: Lester, Buchholz, Lackey, Dubront, Peavey and Dempster are all under contract. There’s also Workman, Webster, Britton and de la Rosa in Pawtucket as depth, with Anthony Renaudo, Matt Barnes and Henry Owen not far behind them. Workman probably works as a swingman in Boston next year. I think there’s a pretty strong case to be made for trading Peavey or Dempster and/or one of the young guys for a catcher who is on the end of his contract to bide a bit more time for Lavarnway.

    • chip56 - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      Red Sox should trade pitching to the Angels for Trumbo and Ianetta.

      Trumbo should be able to play LF in Fenway with the Monster backing him up, Nava moves to RF and Victorino replaces Ellsbury in CF.

      Ianetta would be a nice get for you behind the plate.

      • Joe - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        Ianetta could be a nice add. I’m not sure Trumbo’s low OBP fits well with Boston’s approach. JBJ is a spectacular outfielder, and he should be able to get on base enough to be a valuable player, a la 2011-vintage Bourjos. I can see a mix of Gomes/Nava/Victorino/Junior being quite solid.

  8. chip56 - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    My guess is that Drew and Ellsbury will both be highly overpaid Mets next year.

    Boston needs to decide what the plan is with Middlebrooks and whether or not to gamble long term on Napoli’s hip.

  9. j0esixpack - Oct 31, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Drew’s contributions were on the field even when they weren’t in the battery’s box. He made difficult plays look easy.

    Even though it didn’t impact the score, Ellsbury’s ability to evade an out in a run down was epic and was another back breaking moment for St. Louis (which has nothing to be ashamed about – they were beaten by the better team)

    But Ellsbury’s won’t be back – another team will over pay for him and give him a contract that will likely pay him long after his speed skills have eroded. They will get a few good years out of him, but likely not the full value of the contract.

    The Sox have watched the Yankees make that mistake for decades (and they’ve made the same mistake themselves – though we’re bailed out by the Dodgers) – but they won’t make that mistake in the future

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