Even though there’s been talk about the New York Yankees carrying on with their plan to downsize their payroll, recent free agency moves point towards the other direction, as they signed Jacoby Ellsbury, formerly with the Boston Red Sox, on a seven year deal worth $153 million.
This makes the Yankees commit nearly $240 million to Ellsbury and Brian McCann who they’ve also added to try and lift the franchise up from a very disappointing 2013 season. With these signings and all the talk of fiscal responsibility, it doesn’t look like they’re going to have enough money to spend on re-signing Robinson Cano or bringing in Shin-Soo Choo after his fantastic season with the Cincinnati Reds.
Ellsbury just completed his seventh season with the Red Sox, winning his second World Series ring. He had an excellent postseason, batting .344 with an OBP of .408, getting 6 RBIs and adding 7 walks. In the 2013 regular season, he hit .298 with a .781 OPS and led the American League with 52 stolen bases.
The central fielder signing with the Yankees means Brett Gardner will probably be moved to left field, while the prospect of Cano signing elsewhere increases. The Yankees aren’t going to give him more than $170 million for 7 years, but rumors suggest that the Seattle Seahawks are willing to pay him over $200 million over eight years if he joins the AL West team.
There are other needs for the Yankees, especially in their rotation. Masahiro Tanaka is someone they’re really interested in, but obviously, the cash they’re willing to spend on free agents has diminished, which also means that Cano trying to get a $300 million deal out of them isn’t going to happen in this lifetime or the next, despite the Yankees’ reputation to overpay.
Did the Yankees overpay Jacoby? Probably, but that’s what you have to do in order to get good players away from rivals. The problem with Ellsbury are the injuries – since 2007 he has played in 715 games, averaging 102 per season, and having consecutive seasons of over 100 games only twice in his career.