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MLB The Show

29 Nov 2017

New York Yankees: Is a Jacoby Ellsbury divorce possible?

Four years and $85,651,428. That is what's remaining in the seven-year, $153m contract the Yankees gave Jacoby Ellsbury prior to the 2014 season. 

This signing of Ellsbury was a questionable one to start and it may go down as one of general manager Brian Cashman's worst signings ever. In his time in the Bronx, Ellsbury has hit .264 with 39 home runs and 198 runs batted in. He hasn't looked like the same dynamic player he was when he was a member of the Boston Red Sox and it is hurting the Yankees.

The emergence of Aaron Hicks as an everyday outfielder meant the Yankees were forced to use Ellsbury as a bench player for the majority of the 2017 regular season and the entire 2017 American League Championship Series. 

With New York's outfield full in 2018, the question needs to be asked. Can the Yankees move on from Jacoby Ellsbury?

Does he have value?

It's hard to say Ellsbury has no value remaining in his game. He was a .264 hitter in limited playing time in 2017 which is a decent number in today's game. It's clear he is no longer a leadoff hitter with his on-base-percentage under .280 the last four seasons. He hasn't shown signs of power since coming to the Yankees, which is pretty remarkable considering he plays with a short porch in Yankee Stadium.

What was once one of Ellsbury's strengths has become a weakness, the stolen base. Ellsbury stole 241 bases in seven seasons with the Red Sox but has just stolen 102 as a member of the Yankees. The difference here is that he attempted 287 stolen bases in Boston compared to 127 in the Bronx. Although he might not have the wheels he once did, the stolen base has become nonexistent in Ellsbury's game. 

Ellsbury's range is still there defensively but is something that will decrease as he gets up there in age. In 2017, his age 33 season, Ellsbury had a .985 fielding percentage in center field. He hasn't saved many runs lately with a -3 defensive runs saved in 2017 and his arm isn't what it once was. These reasons led to him losing his job to Aaron Hicks as the Yankees starting center fielder in 2017.

Can he be moved?

This is where things get tough for Cashman and the Yankees. Ellsbury hasn't lived up to his contract and still has a significant amount of term remaining on it. The other problem is that he has a no-trade clause, and this is where Ellsbury handcuffs the team.

If New York wants to move on, they will have to be willing to eat a significant amount of money and there doesn't appear to be a team willing to take on Ellsbury and his massive contract right now. Part of the Yankees' asking price is going have to include retained salary, which won't amount to much in terms of quality of players they'd receive in a potential deal. There is the option to release Ellsbury, but that requires eating the rest of his contract. With the Yankees trying to get under the luxury tax, this doesn't appear to be an option.

Thus, unless any injuries pop up, it's looking like Jacoby Ellsbury will be a $21m bench player for the New York Yankees in 2018.