The Yankees have signed now former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract. Before he can steal his first base, before he collects his first hit, before he can even get his first at-bat, he will have to choose a uniform number, but what will it be? It could end up being a difficult process for him.
When he was on the Red Sox he had worn No. 2 since the 2010 season. He obviously can't wear that because Derek Jeter is the one who wears that and no one will ever wear that number again. His original number before that was No. 46, but that was Andy Pettitte's number, and you can believe that the Yankees will at least hold it out of circulation for awhile. So now what?
He could double No. 2 to make it 22, the old number of Roger Clemens and Robinson Cano. In 2013, 22 was seemingly passed around a lot, going from Brennan Boesch, to Thomas Neal, to Vernon Wells, and Travis Ishikawa, for one game. If Wells is still wearing it, Ellsbury could probably buy it off him if he wanted it. Another option is to flip 46 into 64, though that is a very high number for a player so expensive, and it belonged to Cesar Cabral in 2013, so it's probably not going to happen.
The problem is that Ellsbury can't really choose a number near 2 because all those numbers have already been retired. No. 1 for Billy Martin, No. 3 for Babe Ruth. He could go one down from 46 to 45, a number that was owned by Ben Francisco, Zoilo Almonte, and David Adams during the 2013 season, so it would be ripe for the taking. There is also 47, but that's been worn by Ivan Nova for the last three years and he's important.
There's really no obvious option for Ellsbury to choose from, so he could end up with something completely random. The Yankees could want him to take one of the lower numbers, like most of their best players wear, so he could take 14, with Curtis Granderson leaving, or 17, now that Jayson Nix is a goner. It's hard to say for sure, though, because it could really be anything at this point.