Thursday September 01, 2011 | 12:35 PM

After Wednesday night's game, Josh Beckett joked about the incredible season that Jacoby Ellsbury is having.

"It's going to be a fun arbitration case, isn't it?" Beckett said in his post-game press conference. "Who are they going to compare him to?"

Ellsbury is bound to the Red Sox for at least two more seasons, but is eligible for salary arbitration. (If negotiations reach the arbitration stage, both the club and the player submit a salary figure, and an arbitrator decides which one the player will receive).

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is famous for never going to arbitration, but settling with the player beforehand. This year was Ellsbury's first as an arbitration-eligible player, and he received a 480-percent raise from the Red Sox, to $2.4-million.

What will Ellsbury and his infamous agent, Scott Boras, be asking for next year?

And, more importantly, what will Ellsbury/Boras be seeking when Ellsbury becomes a free agent after the 2013 season?

Maybe Ellsbury will want another zero added to his annual pay - from 2,400,000 to 24,000,000.

The Red Sox like to tie up their young talent to long term deals that offer affordability to the club and security to the player (see Youkilis, Pedroia, Lester, Buchholz, etc.). Only Jonathan Papelbon has held out and he will be a free agent after this season.

Boras' clients rarely sign such long-term deals until they can make the big money in free agency. Boras client Jered Weaver did just sign a deal with the Angels, but Weaver was willing to make a little less money so he can stay in Anaheim where he is happy.

Is Ellsbury happy in Boston? He has not exactly been all smiles these days. See Today's column.

So, how much might Ellsbury be looking for? Think Carl Crawford money, and maybe more.

Boston signed Crawford to a 7-year, $142-million contract before this season. Crawford just turned 30 last month.

Ellsbury, who turns 28 this month, is supplying the power, speed and all-around game that Crawford was supposed to bring to Boston.

Crawford is batting .253, with 10 home runs, 48 RBI, 17 stolen bases and a .686 OPS (combined on-base percentage and slugging average).

Ellsbury: .313, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 36 SB, .897 OPS.

Boston may be saving some money in the future. J.D. Drew ($14) comes off the books this year, and Daisuke Matsuzaka ($10-million) will be gone after 2012. David Ortiz ($12.5-million) is a free agent would likely sign for less money over the next two years. Youkilis has an $13-million option year in 2013 and then he might be gone. Papelbon ($12-million this year) is a question mark.

If the Red Sox want to hold onto Ellsbury, they better start saving up.




About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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