Jacoby Ellsbury, a Navajo and member of the Colorado River Indian Tribe, went into spring training last year slated to earn $2.4 million for the Boston Red Sox in 2011, a figure that might have, at the time, seemed inflated after his injury-plagued and lost 2010 season. Ellsbury’s 2011 season not only erased any possible doubts, they earned him a massive bump in his paycheck, to the tune of a one-year contract for $8.05 million.
Ellsbury is under contract with the Sox through the 2013 season, meaning that the team gave their star center fielder and lead off hitter this big bump in pay in order to avoid salary arbitration, the deadline for which was yesterday.
Perhaps this won’t entirely make up for coming up shy in the MVP balloting (Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander took home thetrophy), but the 2011 Comeback Player of the Year is feeling the love.
“Happy to get a deal worked out!” Ellsbury wrote on Twitter. “Excited to get to Spring Training and help the (hash)RedSox get back on top!!”
Ellsbury’s historic 2011 season included a .321 average, 32 home runs, 39 stolen bases, 105 RBIs and a career-best slugging percentage of .552. This all came from the leadoff spot, making these numbers even more outrageous, and this all also came with his outstanding gold glove work in center field.
ESPN.com reports that the deal was the second highest the Red Sox have ever given to a player in his second year of arbitration eligibility, behind only Jonathan Papelbon ($9.3 million in 2010). The Sox general manager Ben Cherington said that the two saids never discussed a multiyear deal.
Ellsbury does good works with his talent off the baseball field as well. He has worked with the Navajo Relief Fund , which works with the Navajo Nation to improve the quality of life for the 255,000 members, and Project Bread, which is dedicated to “alleviating, preventing, and ultimately ending hunger in Massachusetts,” as their website states.