Look, I get it. This offseason has been the dullest in recent memory, perhaps ever. There have only been a handful of exciting moves throughout the league, though at least the Yankees were involved in one of them. Outside of Giancarlo Stanton becoming a Yankee, there hasn’t been much to talk about.
A lot of that is because the Yankees don’t have many needs. A lot of that is also because of the Yankees’ insistence on getting under the luxury tax threshold. That insistence has caused the Yankees to put a hold on moves they probably would have made by now.
If the tax wasn’t a concern, Yu Darvish would be a Yankee and so would Todd Frazier, probably. Whether that’s right or wrong is another debate, but we have to accept that’s where we live right now.
It’s clear that the Yankees could use another starting pitcher or a veteran infielder, but they’re not going to do it if it means another year of being over the threshold. The Yankees have wanted to reset their penalty rate for years now and this is their best chance to get that done. They will get that done.
Brian Cashman expressed interest in Darvish while adding that unless ownership changes their mind, they likely won’t be able to get him without making some financial room. That means getting rid of one of the remaining high-priced contracts they have on the books. I’ve already discussed why the Yankees might not want to trade Brett Gardner and how trading David Robertson could be risky. That leaves us with the pipe dream that is Jacoby Ellsbury.
Yankee fans have been wanting Ellsbury gone since before the ink dried on the contract he signed. To be honest, they probably wanted him gone before he opened the pen cap to sign the contract. His contract didn’t make sense then, never has made sense, and has only become a burden. Yankee fans would like nothing more than to pass the “Most Handsome Yankee” award on to someone else.
The problem with that? He has a shiny no-trade clause that he has seemingly no intention of waiving. That’s okay. That’s his right. He probably should’ve never gotten one, but he has it and gets to use it to stay in New York. Who can blame him? He has no real reason to leave the Yankees.
One of my favorite narratives about Ellsbury is that he would accept a trade to the Mariners because he is from Oregon. That one started in approximately 2014. It has since evolved into “Ellsbury will accept a trade to Team X because he recently built a home in Arizona.” Let me tell you, this fact is not relevant to anything Ellsbury is thinking about.
If Ellsbury cared that much about having a home close to where he played, he’d probably have built/bought a home in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. Why? Because as far as he’s concerned, he’ll be playing in the Bronx for the next few years. It’s as simple as that.
It became even funnier to me when Joel Sherman suggested Ellsbury would accept a trade to the Rockies because the Rockies have spring training in Arizona and play three series per year in Arizona. Let me tell you another thing: nobody cares about where spring training games are played. It is not relevant at all.
With the Yankees being as close to the World Series as they were last year, and their acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, they have a very good chance of winning the World Series this year. No athlete is going to give up that opportunity so they can spend an extra six weeks in Arizona, plus three trips. Nor should they.
The only legitimate reason that Ellsbury would have to waive his no-trade clause would be playing time. However Ellsbury, perhaps rightly so, honestly believes there’s still playing time for him in the Bronx. The Yankees have pretty much given Aaron Hicks the keys to center field, but they can just as easily take those keys back.
“He’s got a lot of pride,” Cashman said of Ellsbury. “I think he’s intending to try to find a way to take that job back. The season ended with Hicks as the everyday center fielder, so I think it’s easy to presume going in that Hicks would be the everyday center fielder. That doesn’t mean that Ells can’t take it back.”
Hicks showed great potential last year before he got hurt, but that’s all that it was. The Yankees do honestly believe in Hicks, but Ellsbury knows he’s far from a sure thing. He has yet to play a full season, and when he has been healthy he really hasn’t done much outside of last year. While the Yankees seem to be all-in on Hicks, it’s not inconceivable that the plan fails. That’s where Ellsbury thinks he has a shot.
We can speculate all we want to about Ellsbury’s willingness to trade, but the fact of the matter is that there’s no real reason for him to want to leave New York. If the Yankees somehow acquire Mike Trout, then we can talk. Until then, I’m sorry to break it to you but Jacoby Ellsbury is probably here to stay.