The New York Yankees were quick to sign Jacoby Ellsbury after Robinson Cano left, a move that had many thinking the contract would age badly. It looks like, despite the fact the contract is only half way through, these fears have come true already.
Baseball teams put together long-term contracts understanding that players will deliver the most value early in their contract, knowing full well players will deliver an average performance in the last few years. It must have come as a shock to the Yankees that Ellsbury would only manage to deliver one good season.
Ellsbury benefited greatly from helping the Boston Red Sox win the World Series in 2013. His career has already had ups and downs as well, including performing above and below average and missing dozens of games due to injuries. Should the Yankees really be surprised that Ellsbury hasn’t performed as expected for them?
He was always good but never exceptional during his first year scoring 111 OPS+, but has become a shell of his former self barely worth the money on his contract. Even his legs aren’t what they used to be. What was once his calling card has become an average success rate of 75.9% when it comes to stealing bases.
Ellsbury is now entering his fifth season for the team and many fans are getting sick of seeing him and the team has found him a spot on the reserves. It doesn’t matter how the Yankees act though as he will never be worth the money his contract costs. He can barely be relied on to be a reserve anymore given that he keeps getting injured. He’s actually out right now after straining his oblique.
Reports suggest that the Yankees are shopping him for the offseason and would be willing to eat around half of what is left of his contract to get him traded. This hasn’t proven to be much of an incentive though as o one is buying. Ellsbury also has a full no-trade clause which is going to make it even more difficult to trade him.
There are some upsides to Ellsbury that the Yankees could draw attention to, such as how much he contributed before getting a concussion in the last season, but every upside comes with a downside. Every good stat a team could find about Ellsbury will come along with a bad stat that wards them away.
It’s an understatement to say that the New York Yankees are in a bind. Players in their 30s, such as Ellsbury, are already a hard sell. Another team would still need to spend at least $18 million even if the Yankees were to take on $50 million. No team is about to invest that much in a player that is way past his prime and has proven to be injury prone.
It takes a lot of skills to play for a team on the level of the New York Yankees, such as an increase hitting power and an incredible batting average. Needless to say, these are skills that Jacoby Ellsbury no longer possesses.
Given all the younger – not to mention better – talent the Yankees have waiting in the wings it’s way past time that they gave up on Ellsbury.