People were very upset at the thought of a Giancarlo Stanton trade to clear room for Bryce Harper in 2018, and I get it. It was hypothetical. It’s a near-impossible type of ordeal, and a lot of things would have to click into place for that to work, but my reasoning is essentially that it is the offseason, and nothing is going on as we wait for a possible Gerrit Cole trade, so we can posit even the impossible. I find points like this in the offseason actually incredibly interesting for the sole reason that we’re sitting at a crossroads, and we have a moment to take a peek down all possible routes.
So, on to yet another pipe dream: trading Jacoby Ellsbury. It’s no secret that the Yankees’ outfielder has a few bad things going for him in that he is the worst contract on the team, and he’s the worst outfielder on the roster. Brian Cashman has been trying to find suitors, but his contract and no-trade clause will be prohibitive. However, an interesting note came from Jon Heyman last week:
“Jacoby Ellsbury was said early this winter not to want to waive his full no-trade clause, but word now is that he might consider waiving it for a select few teams, and the San Francisco Giants could be one of them.
Ellsbury could fit in as the Giants’ center fielder, whereas with the Yankees he seems destined to be the fourth outfielder, as Yankees people say they are going with Aaron Hicks in center field. Ellsbury lives in the Phoenix area, so the Giants’ spring home in Scottsdale would be a plus for him, too.”
If that’s true, half of the battle could be won. The harder battle, of course, is actually moving him to that team of choice—in this case, the Giants.
Grant Brisbee wrote about his reservations, and they were obvious, simply stating, “Ellsbury is left-handed... [he] has no power... [his] defense probably won’t make him a Gold Glove candidate... [and] he wouldn’t be free.”
All of those things are probably true. Ellsbury will not be free, as he is owed $68 million over the next three years. He also has no power, and his defense has diminished in what would be a sprawling center field at AT&T Park. The Giants also have some options, too: Austin Jackson was who Brisbee wanted, and the team has also looked into Jay Bruce.
The fact is, though, which works to the Yankees’ advantage, is that they do need at least one outfielder. Between Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker, Austin Slater, Steven Duggar, and Gorkys Hernandez, none project to put up more than 0.3 (!) fWAR in 2018. And that’s across multiple positions: the only outfielder actually slotted in full-time is Hunter Pence, another flawed player.
So, you could see some infinitesimally small chance this works: the Yankees need to clear him and would eat nearly all of his salary, and the Giants need one (or two) more outfielders; they could still sign Bruce in this scenario as well. They could also do a famed bad contract for bad contract swap, with the Yankees taking on Jeff Samardzija to make the money even. Honestly, not only do the Giants need the innings, the Yankees need to move the roster spot more than anything else; at this point with Ellsbury, even saving $1 million and adding the spot makes the bad nightmare end.
Once again, people will likely be miffed by even such a proposal. There are better options, for sure, and the Giants should be choosing among them. Yet if those options fall through, the Yankees should try their best to move a salary they have been trying to clear for a while. While the concern is that he isn’t free, the Yankees should try to get as close as they can get to free, because looking at the crossroad we’re currently at, I don’t see Ellsbury getting much playing time down any of those forks in the road.