Well that escalated quickly. Soon after it was reported that the Yankees had outstanding offers on the table for just about every notable position player free agent, word broke that the team and Jacoby Ellsbury had agreed to a mammoth 7 year, 153 million dollar contract. It was a quick transition for a team that seemed to be infatuated with Carlos Beltran only a few moments before.
The obvious should be stated first: the Yankees are getting a good, occasionally great player. While his offensive production has wavered from season to season (150 wRC+ in '11, 84 in '12, 113 in '13), Ellsbury has been considered a great defensive centerfielder and one of the fastest runners in the game. He has been worth 23.7 fWAR over his seven year career, which has featured several lengthy trips to the disabled list. So there's durability concerns as well. As with any contract of this length and size there's a ton of risk being taken on here, but perhaps even more than usual due to Ellsbury's history. Maybe the Yankees are hoping the '11 version of Ellsbury is more the norm than an aberration.
The deal now gives the Yankees an extremely preliminary starting outfield of Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner and Ellsbury. It would seem that Gardner might be shifted to the trading block considering the overlap of skills between the two. If they opted to stand pat, however, the Yankees would instantly have an absolutely phenomenal defensive left field/center field duo. It also means that the Yankees have improved their roster while snapping up one of the best players from the rival Red Sox, but whether that was a part of the decision-making process is anybody's guess.
What this means for the rest of the Yankees offseason is unknown. Initial reports are that the signing of Ellsbury will not impact the Yankees pursuit of Robinson Cano, but as we have seen thus far this offseason, the team is capable of anything. It seems "Plan 189" needs to be moved to intensive care after the Brian McCann and Ellsbury deals.