December 4th, 2013
The New York Yankees have made their second big splash of an off-season that originally was thought to be one of trying to cut payroll, but has been the complete opposite so far. On Tuesday night they signed now former Red Sox Center Fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. After handing a five-year 85 million dollar contract to Catcher Brian McCann, the Yankees have now added a seven-year 153 million dollar contract for Ellsbury to their payroll.
This contract for the Yankees is going to be taking a lot of heat, and deservingly so. Although Jacoby Ellsbury is a very good player he does have trouble staying on the field. Another scary part of the contract for the Yankees is the seven years for a 30 year old player that relies most of his game on his legs, as he is coming off a 52 stolen base season. In his 2012 contract season, Ellsbury batted .298 with 172 hits, 92 runs scored, 31 doubles, eight triples, nine homeruns, 53 RBIs, and the aforementioned 52 stolen bases in 134 games. Power wise Ellsbury had one monster year in 2011, hitting 32 homeruns that season, but excluding that year he only has 33 career homeruns. It will be something to watch in 2014 if Ellsbury can find the short porch a few times.
Now that Ellsbury is aboard the Yankees Outfield would seem to be set with talent and depth. The way Joe Girardi will handle the five outfielders would figure to be with Ellsbury in Center Field, Alfonso Soriano in Left Field, and Brett Gardner making the switch over to Right Field unless they look to start shopping him, as Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells are more than capable of being a platoon in the Outfield. The signing of Ellsbury also means that as many expected heading into this off-season, Curtis Granderson’s time as a Yankee will be done. The Yankees were also very interested in bringing in Carlos Beltran before the signing of Ellsbury, but Beltran can now be crossed off the wish list.
The big comparison to the Ellsbury deal for the Yankees will be one that the Red Sox did in 2011 when they signed speedster Carl Crawford. When Crawford was signed by the Red Sox in 2011 he was actually coming off a better year than Ellsbury had in 2012, and Crawford actually got a little less money over seven years. Crawford’s time in Boston was nothing less of a disaster leading him to getting shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In Los Angeles, Crawford had a bit of a bounce back, but is not producing even close to what he is being paid, and as every year passes he’s going to lose a step, and that has to be a major concern for the Yankees in their signing of Ellsbury. It is very well possible that Ellsbury will be very productive and earn his money over the first 3-4 years, but what will a player who relies on his speed look like at 35 years old, and making 23 million dollars.
Priority number one heading into this off-season for the Yankees was to sign All-Star Second Baseman Robinson Cano, and although they have handed out over 230 million dollars this off-season, none of that has found its way into Cano’s wallet. The Yankees have been hard balling Cano, setting the limit at about seven years 175 million, which comes out to about 25 million per year. The Seattle Mariners seem to be the most interested team in getting the services of Cano, and the Yankees have said under no circumstances will they match a 200 million dollar contract. It will be something big to watch if the moves the Yankees have made so far make Cano happy by getting good players or mad by signing players other than him to big contracts, or have no effect at all.
The off-season for the Yankees is in full swing now, as the 189 million dollar luxury tax threshold seems like a thing of the past, but there are still holes to fill in the bullpen, starting rotation, and the big question whether or not Robinson Cano will be in pinstripes next season. It should be a very action packed winter for the Yankees and their fans.