The New York Yankees are trying to alleviate an outfield that has become very crowded as veteran center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury continues to inhabit the trading block.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees are attempting to move Ellsbury’s contract, which has become a burden toward the team’s ability to remain under the luxury tax threshold.
Ellsbury is signed for the next three seasons, with a team option for a fourth in 2021, where he provides a cap hit of over $21 million per season. That’s a sizeable amount of money to pay for a player who is a fifth outfielder on the Yankees’ depth chart as he sits behind Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks. Depending on Clint Frazier’s MLB development, Ellsbury could drop even further to a sixth option.
The Yankees inked Ellsbury to a monster seven-year, $153 million contract prior to the 2014 season largely based off a flash-in-the-pan 2011 campaign he had with the Boston Red Sox. That season, Ellsbury finished second in the AL MVP voting as he batted .321 with 32 home runs, 105 RBI and 39 stolen bases.
Since that 2011 season, which included two more years with the Red Sox before coming over to the Bronx, Ellsbury has averaged .272 with 12 home runs and 62 RBI per 162 games. Not exactly $153 million material.
Despite his lack of production and large contract, he has received some interest on the trade market as Sherman noted that the Baltimore Orioles “actually like Ellsbury a little,” though the Yankees would probably have to eat a portion of that contract.
Ellsbury would provide either a backup option in center field behind Adam Jones or take over the starting role in order to move Jones to right field. The Orioles’ current top option in right at the moment is Joey Rickard, who batted .241 with four home runs and 19 RBI last year in 261 at-bats.
The problem is that Ellsbury has a full no-trade clause and it is unlikely that he would waive it to go to another East coast team. With his home in Scottsdale, AZ, Ellsbury would probably be more willing to waive his no-trade clause if he was sent to either the Arizona Diamondbacks or San Francisco Giants, per Sherman.
The Yankees and Diamondbacks discussed a possible deal involving Ellsbury in mid-December, per Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, but no real progress was made. San Francisco on the other hand has yet to enter any kind of talks with New York about the outfielder, though.