Jacoby Ellsbury rumors: Tigers have financial room to sign OF

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The Tigers may be putting themselves in position to make a splash in free agency with recent cost-cutting moves.

With moves made in recent weeks, the Detroit Tigers could be positioning themselves to sign free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, reports Peter Gammons of MLB.com.

Most recently, Detroit traded starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Nationals for three players, saving the team his arbitration salary the next two years. MLB Trade Rumors estimated that Fister would make $6.9 million in 2014. However, the Tigers' big money-saving tactic this offseason was dealing Prince Fielder to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler. While Kinsler has a hefty deal of his own, Detroit is saving around $72 million overall in the trade.

The Tigers currently owe $102.7 million to eight players under contract for 2014. In addition, they have six players set to undergo arbitration, including outfielder Austin Jackson, catcher Alex Avila and starting pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Max Scherzer. MLBTR estimates those six arbitration-eligible players to receive $32.7 million, bringing payroll up to around $135 million for 14 players. The end result will likely be a roster that is already over $140 million overall. The Tigers payroll in 2013 fell just under $149 million, but with MLB's new TV deals they could push that even further.

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Ellsbury is rumored to be looking for about $140 million over seven years. He is unlikely to return to the Red Sox as they do not want to push over $100 million for him. Ellsbury has been a premier defensive center fielder in the MLB over his career as well as one of the biggest stolen base threats in the game. He swiped 52 bags in 2013, the third time in his career he has led the AL in that category. He also hit .298/.355/.426 last year and has a career 789 OPS. Ellsbury has hit double-digit home runs just once, when he powered 32 long balls in 2011.

The Tigers currently have Austin Jackson in center field, but could push him into left if they were to sign Ellsbury. Torii Hunter is in place as the team's right fielder while Andy Dirks is currently penciled in as the starting left fielder if no other moves are made.

Another option for the Tigers could be Shin-Soo Choo, who would fit better as a corner outfielder and allow Jackson to remain in center. However, that would not fit as well in the new defensive mold the Tigers are carving this winter. Both Choo and Ellsbury are among the most desired players on the market.

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