Just as life imitates art, sometimes baseball operations mirror FanPosts. According to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (subscription required), the Yankees and Mariners discussed a Jacoby Ellsbury for Robinson Canó swap at the start of the offseason.
“Earlier this offseason, sources said, the Mariners and Yankees briefly discussed a contract swap involving Canó and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is owed $47.2 million over the next two years and holds a full no-trade clause.
“The Yankees wanted the Mariners to include significant cash in addition to taking Ellsbury, and the talks failed to gain traction, according to one source. Money was but one obstacle: Canó, who probably would need to be a first baseman-DH with his former team, has made just 10 career starts at first, all last season, and the Yankees do not want to tie up their DH spot.”
Canó, 36, hit .303/.374/.471 with 10 home runs in a suspension-shortened 2018 season. Ellsbury, on the other hand, didn’t appear in a single game at the major league level. He battled a number of injuries before a torn hip labrum sidelined him for the season. He is expected to be healthy for spring training.
In the years since the two signed their free agent contracts, Canó has slashed .296/.353/.472 with a 127 wRC+. Meanwhile, Ellsbury authored a .264/.330/.386 batting line with a 96 wRC+ over that span. Most of his value derived from his 2014 season, too. It’s advantage Canó, who still has a track record of being an above-average big league bat.
This move is a total longshot for a number of reasons, including Ellsbury’s no-trade clause. Besides, it may not even make sense for the Yankees. The organization might not want to commit to the five remaining seasons of Canó. That was a sticking point back in 2013, and I’m not sure why that would change now.
The team may just opt to go younger, especially with talent like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado available on the free agent market. If the years were similar, I could see this having a chance to go down. For now, it looks like just a fun “What if?” scenario.
What do you think? Would you make the swap? Why or why not? Let us know how you feel in the comment section below.