MLB Trade Rumors: The Yankees could look to trade Jacoby Ellsbury

For the past week or so, one of the main focuses of the Yankees has been their newest star outfielder, Clint Frazier. As of Thursday morning, the 22 year-old is batting .290/.306/.565 with three homers, 13 RBIs, six doubles, and two triples in 18 games. He’s been an extra base hit machine, but has also managed to come up clutch many times. However, Yankees GM Brian Cashman announced last week that, when Aaron Hicks is activated off the DL in the future, Frazier will be sent back down to Triple-A. Naturally, this caused an outburst. Frazier’s emergency has relegated Jacoby Ellsbury to bench duty, but Ellsbury will remain with the Yankees once Hicks comes back, solely because of his contract. What kind of message is this sending to both the players and the fans? If the Yankees are going to continue with their youth movement, Frazier needs to stay with the team, and Ellsbury needs to be wearing a different uniform come August 1st.
Photo via Al Bello of Getty Images

Through 59 games played this year, Ellsbury has accumulated just 0.4 WAR. He’s batting .244/.318/.353 (82 wRC+) in that span. As stated before, Clint Frazier is batting .290/.306/.565 (124 wRC+) in just 18 games, and has a 0.3 WAR. He’s almost level with Ellsbury in 41 less games. Because of this, having Ellsbury on this team, even if he is just a fourth outfielder, is a detriment to the Yankees. There aren’t really many options the Yankees have as well; they can either trade Ellsbury, or just release him.

Releasing Ellsbury is easier said than done. Yes, the Red Sox recently designated Pablo Sandoval for assignment, even though owe him a lot of money in the future. However, Sandoval was absolutely useless for the Red Sox. After his below average 2015 season, he managed to only play 35 games in 2016 and 2017 combined. In that span, he hit .200/.268/.333, along with multiple injuries. Ellsbury has not been NEARLY that useless for the Yankees. He still has some redeeming qualities, such has his good defense in the outfield (with the exception of his throwing arm), and he still has good speed. He could be a useful fourth outfielder for a team. Because of this, the Yankees might want to see if they can actually get something in return for him. Releasing him with three years left on his contract is more of a move out of desperation, not the go-to move. 

However, trading Ellsbury will be no easy feat either. Not too many teams will be willing to add an average outfielder being payed close to superstar money, and Ellsbury still has three years and $68 million left on his contract. So, in order to do this, they will need to take on a contract that is just as much of an albatross. Buster Olney of ESPN ran through some possibilities on Sunday, and those players, along with their contracts, are:

Justin Verlander (DET): two years, $56 million, plus vesting option of $22 million for 2020
Jeff Samardzija (SF): three years, $59.4 million
Johnny Cueto (SF): four years, $87.3 million, but an opt out after this season
Jordan Zimmermann (DET): three years, $81 million
Robinson Cano (SEA): six years, $144 million
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA): eleven years, $295 million, but an opt out after the 2020 season

I would also add Felix Hernandez (two years, $54.7 million), and Joey Votto (six years, $157 million) to the list. These are more hopeful, and less likely, especially in Votto's case, but they still make some sense. Votto has repeatedly said he wants to stay with the Reds, but man, he would rake in Yankee Stadium. A guy can dream, right?

Teams like the Tigers and Giants are having such bad years that they may look to sell off some of their more expensive veterans, so they would be more likely to trade. The Mariners could also fall into the category if they struggle in the next week. However, would these teams take Ellsbury? It depends on what they get in return. If the Yankees were to take on all of Jeff Samardzija’s contract, and pay some of Ellsbury’s, I think the Giants would be interested.

Personally, I think it would be a better idea for the Yankees to swap Ellsbury for one of the starting pitchers mentioned above. None of them are having particularly good seasons, but any one of them would still be a much better option than Luis Cessa or Caleb Smith. With Michael Pineda out for the rest of the season, the Yankees need another starter. Even with all the rumors linking them to Sonny Gray, they might find that trading Ellsbury and maybe a prospect in exchange for a pitcher with a similar contract might be the better idea. 

The Yankees will have to pay a good amount of Ellsbury’s contract, but they are the Yankees. Money isn’t that big of a problem. Having Ellsbury taking up a roster spot while Clint Frazier wastes time in the minors is a problem.

Article by: Alex Weir


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