Insider: Will Jacoby Ellsbury stay put?

Over at ESPN Insider, Jim Bowden looks at this year's free-agent class of outfielders, and notes that the future of each player is dependent on where the others land -- starting with Jacoby Ellsbury.

He also gives his predictions -- based on conversations with executives and agents -- for each free agent, and says that he expects Ellsbury to ultimately stay in Boston.

Here's his reasoning:

Ellsbury’s first choice is to return to the Red Sox and help them defend their World Series title. The Red Sox have also made it known that they’d like him to return, and apparently he’s their No. 1 priority. However, they also don’t appear willing to go to the seven years Boras intimates might take to sign him. Boras has always encouraged his players to take the best offer, but he also works hard to get the team his players want to match that best offer or beat it.

Further, the Red Sox have been burned by long-term deals and have a history of walking away when it escalates beyond a number of years they are comfortable with. But they aren’t afraid to offer higher average annual values to try to persuade the player to sign. If the Rangers, Nationals or Yankees offer seven years, they’ll be able to get Ellsbury. If he does depart, expect the Red Sox to answer by signing Beltran to play a corner and allow rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. to take over in center field. But my instincts say if it’s close, he’ll stay in Boston.

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Meanwhile, David Schoenfield insists that the Chicago Cubs would be the perfect destination for Ellsbury, and gives four strong reasons why.

Here's a snippet:

Ellsbury would give the Cubs exactly what they need -- a table-setter for the top of the lineup and a good defensive outfielder. Baez and Bryant are the best of the talented group of Cubs prospects, but neither is considered a plus defender. If they develop as hoped, they'll anchor the middle of the order along with Rizzo. Amora projects as a high-average, good on-base guy; sounds like a nice No. 2 hitter. That leaves Ellsbury leading off. Ellsbury and Amora, who is considered a plus defender in center, would give the Cubs two good outfielders (and Soler should be solid-average in right field with a strong arm) to help balance out the potential defensive shortcomings of Baez and Bryant.

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