Boston Signs MVP Babbitt—Now What?

April 5, 2023
By Callum Ng

The earthquake of a reigning MVP switching teams in the offseason feels so rare. In the UFA, Jeff Babbitt’s move from New York to Boston was even more shocking because of how tight the Empire dynasty seemed to be. Three titles in four seasons, an active 30-game win streak—all created together. A week ago, there was no reason to believe that the foundation of Babbitt, Ryan Osgar, Ben Jagt, Jack Williams, and company wouldn’t stay together and continue to dominate the league for years to come. 

Now, Babbitt will prepare alongside his Glory teammates to host Montreal on the opening night of the 2024 season on April 26.

In a report by Evan Lepler, it sounds like New York General Manager, Matt Stevens, was shocked. 

“We love Jeff and we had planned for Jeff to be with the team for many, many years. We always assumed he would transition from a player to a coach. We did not foresee a scenario where [separating] was even an option.” 

Babbitt is singular. In his physicality, bounding strides, and predictive senses boosted by the athleticism to get to superhuman blocks and scores.

Babbitt said that some of his Empire teammates even tried to negotiate on his behalf which signals an organization desperately trying to defend it’s status and retain it’s best player. In Lepler’s reporting the word ‘team’ is thrown about as much as words like ‘terms’ or ‘business’ and Babbitt’s departure also signals an elevation in the contract expectations from a star player so integral to success. After all, he had been there longer than any of the other stars previously mentioned—since 2016—and was crucial in building the New York brand. Babbitt says he ‘did a thousand different tasks’ while in New York.

And accounting for everything he’s accomplished—the 276 goals and 150 blocks while missing only three games in seven seasons—this decision will mark his career almost as much as any statistic.

Not many people decide to leave something that is so successful, especially after reaching the pinnacle again and again. But Jeff Babbitt, as he’s illustrated, isn’t like most people. He will move on to help repair a troubled Boston offense that ranked 19th in the league in goals last season. Also a menace on the D-line, Babbitt might be called upon by Head Coach Sam Rosenthal to lift a Glory defense that finished bottom half in blocks and break percentage. 

And then there will be the games against his former teammates. Boston hosts the Empire on May 17 in their first meeting of the season, and will travel to New York two weeks later on May 31 for the rematch. It’s like the schedule was made for this storyline.

Ultimate frisbee is a game that rewards consistency. For almost a decade, Babbitt was a constant in black, white, and green. But necessary to evolution is change. Slow, and sometimes jarring. This major shift will impact more than one person’s career, almost certainly the entire UFA, for years to come. For an athlete so committed to team success, Babbitt has certainly set up a test of New York’s resilience, and an opportunity to measure his own greatness, alone.