BOSTON (AP) — Jacoby Ellsbury waved to the crowd lining the shore. The next time he sees those same fans he might get a much different reaction.
The center fielder and his teammates celebrated Boston's World Series title in a "rolling rally" of amphibious vehicles Saturday. It began at Fenway Park, went through city streets and continued into the Charles River before returning to the field where the Red Sox won the championship on Wednesday night.
Ellsbury leads the team's group of potential free agents and, after a strong season, likely could get a better offer elsewhere. The Red Sox are leery of giving long-term contracts, and Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras, is expected to ask for a nine-figure deal.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino refused to discuss what Boston might offer Ellsbury.
"Every baseball season is different," he said before the rally. "It's impossible, or nearly impossible, to have an identical roster year after year. I predict we will not."
General manager Ben Cherington and other team officials also must decide what to offer first baseman Mike Napoli, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and shortstop Stephen Drew. All three were key contributors to the championship and are eligible for free agency.
"It's up to Ben and the baseball operations people and all of us to insure that we make the best effort we can to keep the guys that we want," Lucchino said, "but, inevitably, there'll have to be some new faces next year."
Before their championship season, the Red Sox signed mid-level free agents to relatively short-term contracts — Napoli, Drew, outfielders Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes, reliever Koji Uehara, right-hander Ryan Dempster and catcher David Ross.
The Red Sox signaled their intent to avoid long-term deals when they traded Adrian Gonzalez, whom they had signed for eight years, and Carl Crawford, under contract for seven years, to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August 2012.
Manager John Farrell knows he'll lose some members of his close-knit team that spent most of the season in first place.
The prospect of their departure put "a damper" on the rally, Farrell said before it began. "Unfortunately, the group that we shared so much with might not ever be together again."
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