Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras, has named an asking price, one interested team said. And it seems clear now that Crawford's $142 million, seven-year deal is a benchmark in discussions.
While recently discussing Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, Boras' other top free-agent outfielder, Boras said, "Carl Crawford [who signed for $142 million over seven years in 2010] lives. And Jayson Werth signed for seven years (and $126 million) at age 32."
Boras also has mentioned that Ellsbury's value is actually higher than Crawford's was when he was a free agent since Ellsbury is a center fielder who bats leadoff while Crawford played left field and batted second (at least at the time). Another difference, according to Boras, is that Ellsbury has proved he can thrive in Boston, a high-pressure environment. Ultimately, Crawford wilted in Boston but has come back to play better in Los Angeles.
Boras also mentions that the Crawford deal was struck three years ago, and baseball's finances have gotten even better since.
One rival GM, who won't make a play for Ellsbury, came back, "Crawford was better and more durable [at the time]."
It'll be interesting to see what those involved think.
The Mariners, Nationals, Yankees and incumbent Red Sox are among several teams interested in Ellsbury while the Dodgers, Cardinals, Cubs and others make sense, too. Ellsbury, 30, hit .298 with nine homers, 53 RBI and a league-leading 52 stolen bases in 2013 and helped the Red Sox win their second World Series title since his arrival.