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Jacoby Ellsbury is keeping the Yankees from signing Yu Darvish

The Yankees can’t get Yu Darvish until they trade Jacoby Ellsbury.

World Series - Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Seven Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Yankees have approximately $15 million left to play with before they hit the limits of the luxury tax threshold. That leaves them with plenty of room to add a small piece or two, but if the Yankees still want to sign someone like Yu Darvish, Brian Cashman will have to shed more payroll. If he can’t do that, it’s because of Jacoby Ellsbury.

According to reports, Darvish is still waiting for a few teams to figure out what they are doing. In a slow offseason that honestly couldn’t get any slower, Yu Darvish is still stuck waiting for a deal in February. Things have been tough for him since he returned from Tommy John surgery, but that’s been two years now. Even at 31, Darvish should be worth the investment.

In a world that makes sense, he would be getting paid this offseason. In the one we will in, teams are scrambling to cut down payroll. If the Yankees are one of those teams trying to shed money, the only way they are clearing out enough for Darvish is if they find someone to take Ellsbury and his contract. The problem is that no one seems willing to make that deal, even if they get him at a discount.

Ellsbury is due over $60 million for the next three years, and he’s barely a league-average hitter. Given his lack of power, increased health concerns, and 34-year-old legs, no one is lining up for him. The best the Yankees could hope to do is swap bad contracts with another team, but that wouldn’t really help them improve in 2018, or make Yu Darvish a possibility.

The worst part is the fact that, even if the Yankees found a taker, Ellsbury still wouldn’t approve a trade. It’s certainly well within his rights to make that decision, but he has to know that neither the front office or the fans want him around at this point. Sure, the idea of beating out Aaron Hicks for the starting center field job is alluring, but is it really worth it? Tragically, the two sides are stuck with one another.

The funny thing about all this is that the Yankees have actually cut a fair amount of payroll already. With CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez off the books, $50 million has been freed up. Then they were able to cut another $20 million by ditching Starlin Castro and Chase Headley. However, that money was used to offset the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, so I think we can all live with that.

In the end, the fact remains that the Yankees have the money to pay for both Darvish and Ellsbury if they wanted to. That $50 million has hardly been touched at all, but now that the luxury tax threshold has risen to an attainable $197 million, it’s finally going to happen. Ellsbury may be standing in the way of a Darvish deal, but it’s the Steinbrenners who made it play out like this. At least the Yankees will be fine without Darvish in the end.