Yankees may not have to pay Jacoby Ellsbury $26M to go away


Two days after releasing Jacoby Ellsbury from one of the worst contracts in baseball history, the Yankees may have found a loophole that will save them the $26 million still owed through 2021.

In a move that makes all the more sense as to why the Yankees would be willing to eat the remaining $26 million on Jacoby Ellsbury’s original seven-year, $153 million pact, the Bombers have informed Ellsbury and his agent, Scott Boras, that they have converted his contract to a non-guaranteed deal.

How’s that, you ask? Well, according to Ken Davidoff of the NY Post, since being out of commission since 2017, Ellsbury was treated without the Yanks’ permission by Dr. Viktor Bouquette of Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta, GA.

Therefore, it doesn’t take a detective to figure the Yankees knew precisely what they were doing when they gave the 36-year-old Ellsbury his walking papers on Wednesday.

Not only was a coveted 40-man roster spot opened, but the opportunity to get out from under all or some of the $26M still owed will have a direct impact on Hal Steinbrenner’s luxury tax threshold.

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Naturally, the MLBPA won’t take the Yankees’ decision lying down — and a grievance will likely be filed against the organization for converting Ellsbury’s guarantee — per Ken Rosenthal.

"“The players’ association will vigorously defend any action taken against Jacoby or his contract and is investigating potential contract violations by his employer,” the union said in a statement."

However, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (and noted by CBS Sports), if a player decides to receive treatment from an outside facility, not sanctioned by the major league team, said team could lawfully file a grievance. Therefore, it would seem the Yankees are well within their rights to not let Ellsbury go rich and quietly into the night.

"“Any treatment a Player receives for a Work-Related Injury by a health care provider who is not affiliated with the Club must be authorized by the Club in advance of the treatment in accordance with Regulation 2 of the (Uniform Players Contract).”"

While the Yanks did hold an insurance policy on Ellsbury that recouped some of his salaries in 2018 and ’19, that money still counted against the luxury tax. However, 2020 was not covered by insurance — further proof as to why now was the opportune time to dump a player that missed every single game over the past two seasons.

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Depending on which side of the fence you’re on, this is either petty or genius; however, the Yankees may have very well saved themselves some cash that can be put to good use this winter.