The New York Yankees have finally cleared most of the worst contracts off their payroll, but one major albatross remains in center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Even at the time, the New York Yankees’ decision to sign center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven year $153 million contract in December 2013 seemed like a major misstep, and now, after a steep decline in production during seasons two and three of the deal, it looks like one of the worst moves in the team’s recent history.
Assuming Masahiro Tanaka opts out of the remainder of his contract as expected following next season, the four years and $89.6 million owed to Ellsbury (including the $5 million buyout on his 2021 option) is easily New York’s largest financial commitment.
A big part of the rebuilding effort has been selling off their expensive veterans. They showed they are willing to continue what they started at the trade deadline last year by moving Brian McCann to the Houston Astros in November, and are also reportedly open to moving Brett Gardner and Chase Headley as well, although there hasn’t been a ton of interest.
Most analysts have taken it as a given that the Yankees are stuck with Ellsbury for the immediate future because of just how awful that contract is. New York’s only hope, unless they simply want to eat a huge amount of money to facilitate a trade, is to find a bad contract for bad contract swap that could benefit both sides.
Threading that unlikely needle means finding a player roughly as expensive and unproductive as Ellsbury whose club could use an outfield upgrade. Here are a few possibilities.