Yankees Rumors: Jacoby Ellsbury for Zack Greinke

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 09: Starting pitcher Zack Greinke
PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 09: Starting pitcher Zack Greinke /

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has already reshaped the 2018 team, and Major League Baseball. Now, he might be getting ready for a mega-swap with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Yankees have made it clear that they can see the Canyon of Heroes from where they now sit.

Their young talent became All-Stars and home run heroes in the span of just one season. But to overtake the Red Sox, Astros, and Indians — all of whom won more games than the Yankees last year — they knew they needed more.

Brian Cashman needed to remake the team.

The Yanks have been rebuilding and staying relevant for the last two or three years. Cash’s ability to successfully straddle that line has made him the envy of the league.

No more is the talk about the man with the unlimited checkbook; the new narrative is as the craftiest GM in baseball. When you add the biggest hitter in the game to an already intimidating lineup, you deserve a free tattoo on your arm that reads, ‘Always Play to Your Strengths.’

But even doing a better than average job leaves some rubble to clear for the new edifice to rise. Again, ever cognizant, Cash has already been working on that. The always admirable Chase Headley has been returned to San Diego and the best climate in the country.

There is a very large Naval presence in San Diego; I know because I spent my 21st birthday in Corrective Custody there. And so in honor of both you and them, Mr. Headley, we salute you.

And of course Starlin Castro was shipped to Miami, or wherever he really ends up. He was better than Chase but still needed to go. If Cash and the Yankees were to now go out and add two starting pitchers, I would think it fair to say job well done. At the least.

Good is the enemy of great

But that is not the Yankees’ way. And it’s not Cashman’s way, either. He has his sights on something bigger, and it’s hard to bet against him getting what he wants, at least most of the time. Isn’t that right, Shohei Ohtani?

The talk started in the desert with Arizona. And of course it all started with money.

The Diamondbacks and outfielder J.D. Martinez have an MLB-mance going. The problem for both sides is that Arizona is not going to spend another cool $20 mil per year, which Martinez is likely to cost. It seems as if both sides are waiting to see if the money can somehow be made available.

Enter the Yankees.

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The talks started with an area of need for both teams. Starting pitcher Patrick Corbin is set to be next winter, and that’s too soon for the D’Backs. Plus, he is set to make roughly six million a year until then.

With the team desperate to make room for their beloved slugger, trading Corbin now to the Bombers for a collection of prospects makes sense. That deal seems a fait a compli.

The talks expanded, though, when the two teams realized they had more common ground to sow. Having traded two of their veteran infielders, and expecting to replace them with rookies, the Yankees felt a need for a veteran presence around the diamond.

And it just so happens that Arizona is looking to ship out utility infielder Brandon Drury. Again, a prospect or two and bit of salary relief, and the deal makes sense for both sides.

Get ready, Boston

Now, however, an even bigger deal might be brewing: The two teams might be about to create a mega-deal by adding Jacoby Ellsbury and Zack Greinke to the swap. Here’s why it might make sense.

The Yankees, and their fans, are desperate to get rid of Ellsbury and his contract. And what they would like to do is take that money and spend it on a pitcher. They already stated they would be willing to pay roughly half of Jake’s salary.

Additionally, they must have realized that the combination of that portion of his salary plus the money to sign an impact pitcher would increase their payroll, which they have the flexibility to do.

Trading Ellsbury for Greinke works for both teams. Jake makes $21 million a year, while Zack makes $31 million. The Yanks get a front line starter and an expected increase in their payroll they can absorb, while the Diamonbacks get at least $10 million in salary relief and a player signed to a one-year shorter contract than Greinke.

And all of them good for the Yankees

There are so many possibilities with all of this. The two teams could pivot and pull off just one of these deals, most likely the Ellsbury one. It solves the most needs for both clubs. And it is possible that the Yankees will have to eat a bit more of Jake’s salary. They will counter with low-level prospects instead, but Arizona wants every dollar it can save.

One thing for sure is that Cash will never make a deal that would either threaten the luxury tax threshold or prohibit him from making moves in July. However, anything short of that and this is a done deal.

My guess is that the two teams do indeed pull off the mega-trade. The Yankees would end up with two proven starting pitchers and a veteran back-up infielder, leaving the D’Backs free to canoodle with Martinez.

Next: And These are the Players the Yankees will Look to Trade

Remember how historically cold the hot stove was in November? The Ohtani and Stanton signings blew the lid off the kettle. And it will only get hotter the more time and money the Yankees spend in the desert.