The New York Yankees made a splash right before Thanksgiving by agreeing to sign Brian McCann and now it looks like Jacoby Ellsbury is an early Christmas present for Yankees’ fans. Ellsbury has reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees who apparently are moving ahead with their offseason plans regardless of Robinson Cano and his demands. Ellsbury becomes the latest Boston Red Sox player to move along to the Yankees, joining Johnny Damon, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and, of course, Babe Ruth. It also appears the Yankees are abandoning their plan to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold.
Ellsbury, who will turn 31 on September 11th, has had a very interesting career. He was runner up in the 2011 MVP race when he hit .321/.376/.552 with 32 home runs, 105 RBI, 46 doubles, five triples and 119 runs scored to go along with 39 stolen bases. It was the only time he has ever hit more than nine home runs in a season. Ellsbury is a talented player but has issues staying healthy.
Ellsbury came up in 2007 but played his first full season in 2008. Since then he has only appeared in 100+ games four times in those six seasons. During that time he has appeared in 150 or more games just twice. However, he has led the league in stolen bases three times since 2008 including last season when he swiped 52 bases.
Ellsbury is a very good left-handed hitter who should be able to take advantage of the right field porch and exceed double digit home runs if he can stay healthy. He should take over the leadoff spot from Brett Gardner who will most likely bat ninth again and form a potent combo when the lineup turns over. That is assuming that Gardner isn’t going to be traded which certainly isn’t off the table at this point.
The Yankees certainly gave Ellsbury a lot of money and it could come back to haunt them. The contract also contains an option for an eighth year which could push the total value up to $169 million. This deal could also be a very good one for the team, at least over the first half of it. One thing is certain; the signing of Ellsbury is a clear indication that Brian Cashman and the Yankees are not going to sit idly by this offseason after missing the playoffs last season. This offseason just got really interesting for the Yankees and their fans.