This might be somewhat obvious, but it definitely deserves to be said: The Yankees are better off if Jacoby Ellsbury never comes back from the disabled list. The team tried to get rid of him in the offseason, but for whatever reason, Ellsbury was determined to stay in New York. Now he may as well be gone because it doesn’t seem like he’s coming back anytime soon. This is actually a good thing for several reasons.
The Depth Chart
The Yankees have never been stuck with a player that they need less at this point. He may be a serviceable outfielder for some teams, but in the Bronx he’s just getting in the way. The Yankees already have four outfielders who can start at any given time. Between Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton, adding a fifth outfielder to that mix is not only unnecessary, but actually detrimental to the team’s bench depth.
Right now the Yankees are running with a pretty weak bench between Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, and Austin Romine. He’s projected by Steamer to be a better hitter than the three of them, but not by much. When you consider the context of everyone’s seasons so far, it’s even harder to think how he could bring any kind of advantage to the team. Given the injuries the Yankees have suffered in the infield, having to put Ellsbury on the team would actively diminish any flexibility that the roster currently has.
Injury has defined the Jacoby Ellsbury Era with the Yankees, and 2018 may be the worst year yet. Already at the end of his rope with four years of failure, he talked a big game about winning his role as starting center fielder back. Unfortunately for him, he hurt himself once again with an oblique strain in the first week of spring training. He was forced to start the year on the disabled list, but he seems to be completely MIA at this point.
While getting back into in-game shape, Ellsbury began to suffer from some kind of hip problem. He is now said to be suffering from plantar fasciitis, which according to its severity, could keep him off the field for an extended period of time. Ellsbury was a promising young talent at one point, but now he’s simply become a 34-year-old veteran just hoping to keep himself together to make it back onto the field.
Aaron Boone says Jacoby Ellsbury has been dealing with plantar fasciitis along with the hip thing.— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) April 16, 2018
The Yankees can’t, and should not have to, rely on something like that. The team has a very deep outfield reserve, despite the problems they have had in the early goings. If Clint Frazier can get himself going, the Yankees would defer to their 23-year-old top prospect over an washed out Ellsbury at this stage. They have enough talent in their prime that the Yankees can afford to turn to a youngster instead of the typical veteran past his prime just because they may have a higher floor (mostly theoretically in this case).
Hicks is Better
Seeing how things have turned out just two weeks into the season, it’s hilarious that Ellsbury thought he could beat out Hicks for the center field job this year. Both have dealt with their share of injuries already, but Hicks is back now and already giving the Yankees a taste of what he can do on a regular basis. He hit two home runs on the 13th and brought in a few more runs on Monday.
It’s not much of a sample size, but with what he managed to do in small spurts last year, Hicks is showing the Yankees the kind of talent they originally saw in him. If Ellsbury were to come back, there doesn’t seem to be any chance that he would get a shot at his old job again. It’s not even a situation where they could play matchups or split time either. Hicks, and every other outfielder on the roster, is that much better than him.
Maybe this is unlikely to happen, but the organization is probably be better off losing Ellsbury for the year at this point. He doesn’t seem to be getting any healthier, so letting him sit on the disabled list will allow them to collect insurance money and keep everything running smoothly on the major league roster. You never want to root for someone to get injured, but maybe it’s ok to be fine if they never get healthy again.