Yankees fans will hear the last of Jacoby Ellsbury after contract dispute gets settled

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 31: Jacoby Ellsbury #22 of the New York Yankees reacts after striking out in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers on July 31, 2017 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 31: Jacoby Ellsbury #22 of the New York Yankees reacts after striking out in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers on July 31, 2017 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Up until this past offseason, the New York Yankees haven’t shied away from overpaying to secure high-profile free agents.

Ironically enough, Yankees fans are currently up in arms about Gerrit Cole, the recipient of the team’s last gargantuan contract, amid his lousy start to the season and equally-lame postgame interviews.

Up until Sunday, through three starts, Cole owns a 6.35 ERA, a 1.412 WHIP and almost had as many earned runs (eight) as innings pitched (11.1).

Coming off a poor outing in last year’s Wild Card loss to Boston, the fan base is questioning what Cole’s contract will look like three years down the road. Right now, though, he looks nothing like a $324 million ace.

Whether Cole permanently turns it around or not, he has a long way to go before fans can even think of thrusting him into the conversation of worst signings in Yankees history.

That title might belong to Jacoby Ellsbury, who popped up in the news Friday night after Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported he and the Yankees settled their contract dispute to avoid a grievance hearing.

The Yankees and Jacoby Ellsbury settled their contract dispute.

This alone is big news, but Heyman notes Ellsbury and his former club resolved the dispute over a year ago.

After the Yankees released Ellsbury in 2019, they withheld the $26 million remaining on his seven-year, $153 million contract, alleging he used an outside facility to rehab his injuries without their permission.

As part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement spanning 2017-2021, players were required to seek and receive permission from their organization before using an outside doctor to treat and recover from injuries.

It’s unclear what number the Yankees and Ellsbury settled on, but Heyman notes it was low enough to keep New York under the second luxury tax threshold in 2020. After all, exceeding the threshold would have moved the club back 10 spots in the 2021 draft.

It’s a surprisingly fair ending to what was an incredibly toxic marriage between Ellsbury and the Yankees.

While Ellsbury played over 100 games over the first four years of his contract, he averaged fewer than 10 home runs, and his .264 batting average was nowhere near the .297 mark he compiled over seven years in Boston.

From there, Ellsbury didn’t make a single appearance in 2018 and 2019. His recovery from a torn hip labrum in 2018, for which he underwent surgery, is ultimately what sparked the contract dispute.

Let’s just hope this is the last we hear of Ellsbury. With the Cole contract looking like a potential overpay, Yankees fans don’t have time to dwell on one of the worst free-agent signings in franchise history. The fact we were even reminded of it in the first place is irksome.