Plain and simple, Jacoby Ellsbury is not wanted as a member of the 2018 New York Yankees. And yet, he continues to play the “no-trade” card in his contract that prevents the Yankees from freeing salary to acquire a top-level free agent. He’s going to get paid by someone, so why can’t Ellsbury just give it up and move on?
Jacoby Ellsbury may very well be sitting at home snickering at the Yankees, who made a grandstand play to keep him away from their arch-rival Boston Red Sox by signing him to a costly and interminable contract, that’s come around to bite the Yankees more quickly and forcefully than they could have imagined at the time.
Whether the Yankees like it or not, Ellsbury is the man in the driver’s seat, dictating who he will play for in 2018 thanks to a full no-trade clause the Yankees happily (then) signed up for. In a “normal” payroll year, Ellsbury would just be another player like Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira the team would willingly carry, luxury tax be damned.
Except that in 2018, the salary cap (I refuse to call it a luxury tax) threshold is important to the organization. Hal Steinbrenner has drawn a line in the sand and Brian Cashman has bought into it and is signed up to execute the team’s falling under the $197 million mark this season.
Make no mistake, that is a worthy goal for a franchise who has contributed nearly a half-billion dollars in luxury tax payments since 2004 to their competitors. According to Spotrac.com, the Yankees current payroll stands at $157 today. All arbitration cases have been settled amicably and are included in this figure.
What’s missing are numbers for pre-arbitration settlements with Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, AL Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge. With fair settlements pending for each, a flexible sum of $20 million will remain before the team exceeds the salary cap.
Which, getting back to Ellsbury’s expense, just happens to be the same amount that Darvish will cost the team (per year) that signs him. Without getting into whether or not Darvish is someone the Yankees should be pursuing (there are others who equally or supersede his talents), the Yankees can’t move unless Ellsbury gives it up, moving on to finish out his career with another team.
Ellsbury, if he is traded, will still cost the Yankees money as no team on this planet will be willing to pay his full salary commitment. What the organization is looking for, though, is relief from the full weight of his contract. There are suitors for Ellsbury, and it’s likely, Cashman has found at least one or two who are ready to strike a deal. The San Francisco Giants, for instance, comes to mind as a team loading up with Lorenzo Cain and Evan Longoria trying to rebound from last year’s catastrophe, but still needing another outfielder.
In any event, though, the Yankees sit and wait while we all wait. Brett Gardner could lighten the payroll load, but thankfully the Yankees appear to be committed to their underrated lead-off man in their lineup.
Stalemate. Which is what the whole offseason has been throughout major league baseball. No one who doesn’t have to move this minute (Ellsbury and Darvish included) are moving. But a word to Ellsbury might go something like this. Why do you want to stay in a marriage that is clearly not working? And why are you unable to work something out with the organization that is best for all parties.
This has gone on long enough, don’t ya think?