Originally written on hardballchat.com  |  Last updated 10/18/14

The Boston Red Sox know that they are retooling – not rebuilding – for the future. They traded Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford during the 2012 MLB season, and they may still be looking to shed some payroll and ship out  a few more good men this offseason. They should start with Jacoby Ellsbury. Trading Ellsbury makes sense for the Red Sox for a number of reasons. Regardless of how the team perceives him as a key player in the offense, the Red Sox must trade Ellsbury before the 2013 MLB Trade Deadline, and they may as well at least look into some trade partners after this season. When he is healthy, he is a catalyst for the Red Sox offense. The problem is, he is rarely healthy throughout the season as of late for Boston. It always seems to be one injury after another, and each one seems to keep him sidelined for a good portion of the regular season. If he is beginning to break down already, then things will only continue to worsen. Next, Ellsbury is a free agent after the 2013 season. If he can turn in one more decent season and play at least in 100-120 games, he should be able to cash in as a free agent after the 2013 season. But when one executive was asked if Ellsbury would listen to a contract extension offer from the Red Sox before he was eligible fro free agency after 2013, he said those chances are “zero.” Zero, to me, implies that not only does Ellsbury want to test the free agent waters, but that he is going to sign with the highest bidder. If that is not the Red Sox, why would they want to risk losing him to another team strictly for a pair of draft picks? Ellsbury should be able to fetch more than that if he is traded at the right time. This offseason is the right time. Ellsbury has played well over the past few weeks coming off yet another injury. Right now, a team would be willing to give up a bit more to acquire Ellsbury in a trade, as they would have him for at least one full season before he hits the free agent market after next season. If Boston waits to deal him until the middle of next season, anything could happen. Ellsbury could get hurt, or he could struggle. The Red Sox may not be able to land as an attractive of a package for Ellsbury the longer they wait. That is why trading Ellsbury this offseason is a must for the Red Sox. With all of the pitching woes Boston has, they should ideally look to move Ellsbury for a starting pitcher. And they should do so as soon as possible.    

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