Jacoby Ellsbury is going to be a New York Yankee according to multiple reports Tuesday night. CBS’s Jon Heyman broke the news and it was later confirmed by others. Ellsbury will receive a seven-year deal worth $153 million, which also includes an option for an eighth year which if triggered worth a total of $169 million and make it one of the Top 10 most lucrative deals in baseball history.
It’s the second big-money move for the Yankees this offseason, coming shortly after New York signed Brian McCann to a $85-million deal late last month. Ellsbury looks like he’ll pocket over $21 million per year, which would push the Yankees’ payroll to around $140 million — and that’s before attempting to re-sign Robinson Cano to his desired mega-deal or adding some arms to the rotation. It would appear the Yankees intention of staying under the $189-million luxury tax threshold was all a smokescreen, unless Alex Rodriguez’s suspension is upheld and his $25 million salary comes off the books.
The question now with all this money handed to Ellsbury, 30, will the team have enough (or even want to) meet Cano’s exorbitant demands. This deal would make it seem much more unlikely.
Either way, this move by Brian Cashman is reminiscent of the previous offseason when the Yankees missed the playoffs back in 2008. That year they opened up the checkbook to sign Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to nearly half a billion dollars worth of contracts. It resulted in a World Series win the ensuing season.
The move will obviously draw comparisons to Johnny Damon, who went from a World Series winner in Boston to the Bronx where he helped the Yankees win the 2009 title. Red Sox fans will be mad, but hey, Ellsbury helped them win two World Series.
Anyways, it’s a good baseball move for the Yankees who’ll have a lot of speed in the outfield and at the top of the order along with Brett Gardner. Ellsbury’s lifeline line is .297/.350/.439. Granted he’s making more money than Carl Crawford — a similar player — and that deal hasn’t quite worked out for either the Red Sox or now the Dodgers.
Yankees fans, on Twitter anyways, seem lukewarm to the deal. Paying Ellsbury $21 million the next couple years will be fine, but how about when he’s 35/36 and loses a little bit of his speed, which most consider his best asset? Injuries could be a factor as Ellsbury’s missed significant time in 2010 and 2012 as well as a stretch on the DL late last season.
Bottom line here, once again a Scott Boras client got P-A-I-D. (And Boras simultaneously helped push the market up for another of his clients, Shin-Shoo Choo.)