Yankees going to give Jacoby Ellsbury a try in left field, because why not?

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Jacoby Ellsbury
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Jacoby Ellsbury /

In an effort to make the most out of Jacoby Ellsbury’s remaining three-year, $68.4 million contract, the Yankees will reportedly try him in left field sometime this spring.

For the first time since joining the Yankees in 2014, 34-year-old Jacoby Ellsbury is going to try playing a new position, left field.

According to George A. King of the NY Post, Ellsbury, along with reigning American League Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge, will see upcoming Grapefruit League action in Brett Gardner’s usual territory.

"I think it’s a little bit of a puzzle and make the best evaluation to optimize your defense out there,’’ Boone said. “It’s hard to think of taking him out of center field whenever he is on the field because of his range, but it’s all things we want to look at and at least have that option.’’"

As I said on Twitter the other day, I’m not sure Ellsbury has the arm strength from center field to throw out Greg Bird doing the moonwalk down the third base line.

Though Brett Gardner has made a living playing an excellent left field, throwing out would-be base runners at the plate with regularity, expanding Ellsbury’s versatility is a wise decision by the Yankees.

In my opinion, it’s a move, which if Ellsbury can prove comfortable with, only increases his slim changes on being traded to a club that needs an outfielder capable of playing more than just center field.

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Obviously, this would require Ellsbury to waive his no-trade clause, but I have a sneaking suspicion that sitting on the pine for the first 60 days or so will alter Ells’ stance on “proving his worth.”

For a player in his mid-30s, the much-maligned Ellsbury can still cover a lot of ground. Whether that be on the basepaths (22-out-of-25 successful steals in 2017), or in the outfield (193 putouts in 197 chances in ’17), the two-time World Series champion still has some value, just not to the Yankees.

Over the course of his 11-year big league career, Ellsbury has played a total of 86 games in left field. Unfortunately, the last time he did so was in 2010, at the age of 26.

At the plate this spring, Ellsbury has yet to get it cranked up, going 1-for-10 with one run scored, one walk and a strikeout in four games.

Manager Aaron Boone told NJ.com he expects many of his regulars to see time in roving outfield positions, including Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

"“I think you’ll see all of our outfielders at least at a couple positions during the spring. We want to be able to keep those options and keep that versatility in play as much as we can.”"

I for one like the idea of getting Judge acclimated to life in left field. With Gardner’s contract set to expire at the end of this season, it would be a simple solution to move the athletically inclined Judge to the opposite outfield corner and slide Stanton back to his usual right field position for the foreseeable future.

Next: Andujar to third base, Drury to second base to begin season?

Depending on the viability of Hicks, the progression of Clint Frazier and the increasing likelihood of Estevan Florial reaching the majors early next season, the Yankees will still have a plethora of outfielders to choose from.

And oh yeah, Ellsbury will still be around as well.