Posted December 04, 2013

Yankees sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal

Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees
(Chris O'Meara/AP)

The deal is the third-richest ever contract for an outfielder, and it’s pending a physical that is expected to take place Wednesday. (Chris O’Meara/AP)

The Yankees were shut out of the postseason for just the second time in the Wild Card Era, they watched their bitter rival waltz away with a championship, they were dragged through an ugly public feud with their star player and they watched their TV ratings and attendance numbers plummet. It was not a good year for the Empire. So how would the Empire respond to defeat, debacle, and humiliation?

Like they always do: The Empire strikes back. The Yankees and Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to a seven-year, $153 million deal Tuesday, according to multiple reports. The deal, the third-richest contract ever for an outfielder, is pending a physical that is expected to take place Wednesday. The signing came on a breathless day that saw a flurry of moves in major league baseball, none bigger than the All-Star centerfielder’s move to New York, a move that significantly strengthens the Yankees in the short-term but will be a deal they regret years from now if Ellsbury’s injury history continues. (Yes, the Yankees have money, but just how easy has it been for them to unload A-Rod or Mark Teixeira?)

Here’s the thing: Even after their big moves this offseason — the signing of All-Star catcher Brian McCann also became official on Tuesday — the Yankees are not done. What’s next? Shin-Soo Choo? Carlos Beltran? Masahiro Tanaka? Robinson Cano? Everything is still in play.

Clearly, though, the Yankees in recent days began to feel like their longtime second baseman was slipping away. (Reports had the Mariners emerging as serious players in the sweepstakes.) So instead of forking over the more than $200 million to Jay-Z, the Yankees went out and landed the second-best free agent available, a 30-year-old centerfielder who, when healthy, is one of baseball’s best all-around players (he should have won the AL MVP in 2011), an impact hitter who plays elite defense and is a plus runner who adds value with his baserunning (he led the AL in stolen bases in ’08, ’09, and ’13). Ellsbury is also the kind of dynamic player who will make the Yankees exciting again—the early expectation is that he will play center with Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano in the corner outfielder positions and Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells on the bench.

It’s hard to believe — considering that we’re talking about the Yankees here — that almost no one saw this coming. The deal rocked the baseball world Tuesday night, but it is far from a crazy gamble for New York. In the short term, the signing will look good for the Yankees. Speedy outfielders like Ellsbury do tend to age well, and even when Ellsbury is no longer an elite burner, he can still be an impact bat in the Yankees order. Ellsbury will see an uptick in his power numbers, with Yankee Stadium’s short rightfield porch.

But let’s remember what kind of player he is — the big question with Ellsbury has always been his health. He had a huge 2009 season, then played in just 18 games in 2010. He looked like one of the best players on the planet in 2011, when he led the majors with 364 total bases, then played just 74 games in 2012. It’s reasonable to expect three our four great seasons from Ellsbury, but odds are, in 2017 or ’18 we’ll be talking about Ellsbury as one of the more overpaid players in the game.

After 2008, the last time Yankees missed the playoffs, they went out and spent almost half a billion dollars on CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, and they won the World Series the next year. The 2014 Yankees club still does not look like a championship team — they still have too many questions in the rotation. But there’s no doubt that they are already much better and good enough to make a run at the Red Sox and Rays in the AL East next season. They are already the big winners of this strange, unpredictable, wild offseason. And the Empire is not yet done.

147 comments
Starstruck
Starstruck

Think how interesting MLB would be if there are no guaranteed contracts (as in the NFL.). Players getting cut when they underperform their contracts and the ripple effect on rosters as players are added and deleted would really make things interesting. 

GailMichaelChmura
GailMichaelChmura

What the hell is wrong with the Red Sox!! So many hearts will be broken!

Richard40
Richard40

After signing both McCann and Ellsbury, the Yankees will forfeit their top two picks in next year's draft.  So what, right?   It's not like they ever get anything out of their farm system anyway.

God bless the Yankees, trying to buy a championship, as usual.  That time has passed.  If New York wants to win a title any time in the next 20 years, the Yanks need to look at the Cardinals franchise.   They are the model organization right now.

I say this as a die-hard Red Sox fan.

NEsports27
NEsports27

LMAO at this.  It's Damon all over again just another $100,000,000 more.  I genuinely hope Cano gets $200M (we all know the FO is posturing when they claim to be drawing a hard line on him).  Cano/Ellsbury/Teixeira/ARod contracts all together is just going to be fun to watch.

Enjoy the man of glass Yankee fans.

ngk11
ngk11

Good thing the Yankees farm system is stacked and they wont miss that first round pick ;)

effeweall
effeweall

Even with his horrid numbers, he looks Hollywood, and speaks English.  Yankees need PR stars to fill the void of Jeter.  When The Yankee fans see him running around like a crazy man fielding balls they will love him.  And it lets Cano know he should learn to run and speak

BillieBob
BillieBob

Bottom line: ...DOESN'T MATTER! 

Opening day rosters mean SQUAT no matter how much money gets thrown at them or not.

What determines who does or doesn't win a World Series? Injuries, unpredictable career years, clubhouse chemistry, unexpected call-ups, suspensions, in-season trades, scheduling quirks, who gets hot in September and plain dumb luck. 

Who on the planet thought the Sox would be so bad after all those big signings three years ago?

Who on the planet thought they would be so good in 2013?

Answer: no one. 

Enjoy all the hand-wringing or bragging rights. Means nothing.

jbc123
jbc123

There is no way to judge this signing until the number of games the kid plays is figured into the cash. My guess is that he doesn't even play in half the games he'll be paid for. 

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

One word - SUCKERS! From a Red Sox fan to the Yankees - thank you, thank you, thank you. For keeping Sox management from making a HUGE mistake. If you doubt that please cite one example of a professional athlete who was chronically injured having a great career comeback after age thirty. I guess the Baby Steins just wouldn't feel comfortable if they don't have a couple $20 million per year dead contracts on the books. Now sign Cano for $200 million and ensure another decade of Yankee futility.

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

again the yankees overpaying, again outside of 2011 where he had 32 homeruns, he averages single digits for home runs in a season, as he has 65 home runs total, and again 2011 was his highest outside of that 3,9,4,2,1,9 those are his six other seasons for home runs

6marK6
6marK6

They have gotten a solid catcher and a solid center fielder so far, but the contracts are very suspect. 

AlaGator
AlaGator

As a lifelong RedSox fan, I'm not terribly sad to see him go.  He stays on the DL more than anyone on the roster.

William27
William27

I am a yankee fan, but

their management is pathetic

this is a pathetic signing

they never learn from past mistakes

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

Winners gotta' have 'em, and Jacoby is a good one, but that's a lotta' loot for a table-setter.

Boogieman1281
Boogieman1281

The Yankees seriously overpaid for Ellsbury.  Almost $22 mil/year for a one time All-Star?? Yikes.

PaulKelly
PaulKelly

Yankee fans will like Ellsbury, he is a refreshing change from the current players. They will have to forget that he is making 20 mil per year though because this is quite a bit more than he is worth. This guy is a real nicer player on a team that is already good but that is not the N.Y. Yankees right now.  He will be missed in Boston, he was/is well liked but not irreplaceable. 

jzty
jzty

So the Yankees continue to try and buy a World Series.  What a joke.  That whole salary cap/luxury tax thing that Bud Selig implemented to try and rein in a wealthy team like the Yanks from trying to buy a World Series is working out so well.  Bud Selig should resign.  Why not just cancel the season and let the Yanks write a check for the World Series, since they're intent on stealing other team's best players every year.

MMoney0021
MMoney0021

The Yankees will be a better team when Brian Cashman realizes that simply signing onto his Yankee Ebay account and clicking the bid button endlessly does more damage long term to this team than produce Championships.  So many holes to fill on this team, and rather than make smart baseball decisions we go and sign Carl Crawford version 2.

ScottCote
ScottCote

McCann 5/$85M, Ells 7/$153 w/$16M option for 2021; for my next present Santa, I would like a 7/$200 for Cano, please Santa please, I've been a good boy all year ... The Yanks already in deep doo-doo with albatross contracts, no discernible talent on the farm, AARP reps. on staff & no clear ace ... OMG, they have built a very expensive paper tiger that will take years to get out from under, if they ever learn and get off the treadmill, which is very unlikely ... Oh, happy days ....

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

The Yankees are so horribly run that the only way they can be "in contention" is to outspend most teams by double.  It would be wonderful to see how the front office performed if they actually were on equal financial footing with other teams, like happens in the NFL.  

MMoney0021
MMoney0021

Guess we haven't learned our lesson yet with these horrific contracts.  As a Yanks fan, this move will be good for approximately 3-4 years and I am saying this holding my breath that he does not get injured as early as year 1.  Another smart move by NY.  

We should be trying to do what Boston did and sign guys for 2-4 year deals.  McCann was a great signing.  Beltran for 3 years would have been another great signing.  And then work on pitching from there.  

Continuing to sign 30 year olds to deals that exceed 5-6 years is not smart business.  It is not even the money I care about since NY has more money than god.  For all I care they could give Cano the 30 million a season he wants but keep the contract under 6 years or let him walk.

tom o
tom o

I'm a Sox fan and I'm going to stick up for Ellsbury as far as being "injury prone". Technically it's true, but it is often used to imply a guy is soft or brittle. He was hurt twice, once when Adrian Beltre plowed into him on a fly ball (that was Ellsbury's) and again when a batter missed a hit & run and he was out stealing and the player covering 2nd fell on his shoulder. 2 freak injuries IMO and Yankee fans have every reason to expect him to be healthy. And this article is true in that he should have been the MVP in 2011, if not for the September nose dive of his teammates Jacoby played great that month, btw.

PaulSavini
PaulSavini

I'm a Sox fan and money talks. Solid player when he is healthy. Say what you want but it is a concern. Yankees need pitching. Kinda surprised.

Glenn Hatch
Glenn Hatch

Ellsbury is one of the best lead off hitters in the game.  He covers a lot of ground in the outfield but has an average arm.  If the Yanks can keep him healthy then this will be a great signing.  As a Sox fan I will miss him.  But one thing is for sure, I won't be bitching every year saying he's good but always hurt.  Yankee fans will see what I mean.  


KevinDoucette
KevinDoucette

One guy and they're a contender again? Writer must be from NY. The Angels keep saying that and how's that been working out?

The Red Sox won by putting together a "team". They tried the big name player thing and lost 90 games. Toronto tried it last year and ended up in last place in the AL East. I like Ellsbury but he is not a difference maker.

pvs
pvs

@GailMichaelChmura There is nothing wrong with the Red Sox.......they won the World Series


Hearts will not be broken.....next man up (Jackie Bradley Jr.)


The only disappointment will be in New York when Ellsbury goes down with a fingernail injury and he watches the games missed from the dugout.

bgreen15x
bgreen15x

@NEsports27 the Yankees have said they arent giving him 200 million and made it public. And if suspended ARod will likely be bought out. Ellsbury was out last season because of collisions not being brittle. You just come off as bitter.

bgreen15x
bgreen15x

@ngk11 youre actually getting a 2nd rounder sucks for you.

Boogieman1281
Boogieman1281

@jzty Yankees aren't the only team that does it, though.  And, spending like than can be just as much a hindrance as a benefit, since the contracts are guaranteed.

MarkGrebinger
MarkGrebinger

@jzty Want some cheese with that whine. Everybody plays the same game. Red Sux more than most.


Don5
Don5

@jzty Lol according to Baseball-Reference WAR Ellsbury was only the third best player on last year's Red Sox, and an argument could be made that Ortiz and Napoli were both more valuable to that team, though they ranked lower in WAR.  The joke is that the Yankees think throwing a ton of money at a guy like Ellsbury will make him play like the player he was in 2011, and not the one he's been the rest of the career.  I'm saying all this as a Yankee fan but this system the Yankees use of dominating the free agent market isn't efficient and rarely results in World Series wins. 

ScottHoward
ScottHoward

@MMoney0021 He should be better than Crawford, who is absolutely a terrible contract, but I agree with your sentiment.

jdane
jdane

@tom o Of course this is true.   The 'soft' label is the stupid cry of fat, beer-swilling posters on ESPN, whose major achievement in life is getting their call taken on a Talk Show.    But no one expects, say, professional athletes to be as tough as the guys who criticize them here.

iammagicland
iammagicland

@PaulSavini Yankees don't need pitching. They've got CC, Nova pitched great after being called back up last year, Pineda is healthy, and Phelps is a good back of the rotation guy. Throw in Tanaka, and they could be scary good. Plus, Kuroda hasn't officially retired yet. The only starters they've officially lost from last season so far are Pettitte, who was a .500 pitcher, and Hughes, who makes them better by leaving.

jimmyjon_55555
jimmyjon_55555

@KevinDoucette im sorry - when were the yanks not contenders?  they have been contending since 94 - last year they won 85 games and despite all the injuries- they still finished 3rd and were in the playoff hunt until the last week of the season.  No- i think what you MEANT to say is that - if they stay healthy they are contenders again.  if the yanks keep cano - and kuroda resigns... they should be faves.   Boston won last year by being extremely fortunate-  napoli was a great signing and they tried to kill his contract before he started..  victorino had a phenom year, ortiz had a year like it was 2005 again - cut down on his strikeout rate - to 85!  from 140+ a few years prior- and at age 37- and wow- did he have a great year.   (weird right?)- and also - lackey who has been absolutely horrible - managed to be very good....  so - boston could have easily been a losing team again - everything went right however.  its rare but- they didnt put that team together last year thinking they would win the WS.  they prob figured they would be competitive.  

ngk11
ngk11

@bgreen15x @ngk11 Not really--It sucks for u that your team isnt going to win sht and they are still going to be paying a quarter billion without any hope of a farm system to bail their dumb aszes out. I hate the red sux btw so suck on this

ras342
ras342

@jimmyjon_55555 @KevinDoucette The reason the Yankees are inferior is pretty simple despite everything you just wrote. The Yankees have 7 contracts of at least 18 million per year, and not one of those players in under 30, in their prime or a top 10 player in the game.