Yankees trade idea: Jacoby Ellsbury for Jeff Samardzija

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 17: Jeff Samardzija
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 17: Jeff Samardzija /

The Yankees are desperate to rid themselves of Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract. The only way to do so will be to take on an equally bad but hopefully more useful one.

Each day for the past 10 days, the Yankees have been connected to a different starting pitcher. And though some deals seem more realistic (Patrick Corbin) as opposed to others (Yu Darvish), trading for a reliable shooter solves one issue, while another remains — Jacoby Ellsbury taking up a roster spot.

But perhaps now, there is an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

I know the Yankees would love to shed most, if not all of Ellsbury’s $21.1 million AAV over the next three seasons. However, that’s never going to happen.

So instead of merely making a trade that forces the club to eat upwards of 50 percent of his total contract, why not try to make a deal of two poor contracts, but one that benefits the Yanks?

General manager, Brian Cashman needs to call Giants GM Bobby Evans and offer Ellsbury straight-up for starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

Here’s why this swap makes sense for both sides.

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Ellsbury is said to have recently considered waiving his no-trade clause, if he were to be dealt to a select few teams.

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Heyman believes the Giants could be one of them, especially considering the Los Gigantes’ spring training facility is in Scottsdale, AZ, close to Ellsbury’s offseason home.

Considering the Giants just traded Denard Span, their starting center fielder, to the Rays as part of the Evan Longoria deal, manager Bruce Bochy is now in need of someone to cover the expansive outfield spaces of AT&T Park.

As of today, the only player capable of playing center is 30-year-old Gorkys Hernandez. Hernandez has a total of 525 big league at-bats since 2012. Another option would be to slide Mac Williamson over, but he has limited range and is more of a fourth outfielder, with Jarrett Parker currently penciled in to start in left field.

The only other reliable outfielder of the bunch is Hunter Pence, and he’s dealt with a plethora of injuries over the past two seasons.

Back when Yankees’ special assistant to the GM, Jim Hendry, was with the Cubs, he was the driving force behind selecting Samardzija in the 5th round of the 2006 amateur draft.

Though The Shark’s 9-15 record and 4.42 ERA in 2017 aren’t the type of numbers you’d hope for in an acquisition of a new starter, he did put up other promising stats that point to better days still being ahead of him, including:

  • 205 strikeouts (6th in NL)
  • 207.2 innings pitched (1st in NL)
  • 1.4 BB/9 (1st in NL)
  • 1.136 WHIP (5th in NL)

With a pitching staff that has some lingering injury concerns (which one doesn’t), Samardzija totaling at least 203 innings pitched in each of the past three seasons would go a long way to lessening the workload on the bullpen.

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While the 32-year-old Samardzija may no longer have the upside of say, Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer, he comes with way fewer strings attached and is still more than capable of getting the job done at the backend of the rotation.

Besides, after pitching for one bad team after the other, perhaps wearing the navy pinstripes will rejuvenate The Shark’s career.