NEW YORK -- Jacoby Ellsbury is ready to trade in his Red Sox for Yankees pinstripes, approaching the finish line on serious talks that are set to deliver the speedster to the Bronx with a blockbuster seven-year contract.
A source confirmed that the Yankees and Ellsbury's agent, Scott
Boras, have agreed upon the framework of a deal that will pay Ellsbury a
guaranteed $153 million through the 2020 season. There is also an
option for an eighth year that could raise the total value of the
agreement to $169 million.
The Yanks have not officially announced the deal, as it is contingent
upon Ellsbury passing a physical. Ellsbury is believed to be traveling
to New York from his Arizona home for an exam that could take place on
The massive contract further highlights an eventful week in which the Yankees were already preparing to introduce catcher Brian McCann, who agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract last week with the club.
McCann will be fitted for his new uniform in a Yankee Stadium news
conference on Thursday, and it is possible that Ellsbury could be there
to join him. The duo is being counted on to help transform a roster that
posted just 85 wins in an injury-marred 2013 campaign, missing the
playoffs for the second time in Joe Girardi's tenure as manager.
As first reported by CBS Sports, Ellsbury's contract exceeds the $142 million deal that Carl Crawford inked with the Red Sox back in December 2010, which Boras' camp was
considering to be a benchmark for the speedy outfielder. A dynamic
top-of-the-order hitter who is also rated as one of the best defensive
center fielders in the game, Ellsbury will improve a Yanks outfield
alignment that was already quite strong with Brett Gardner patrolling center field.
The signing could return Gardner to left field, with Alfonso Soriano
shifting to right field. It will shake up an outfield mix that general
manager Brian Cashman wanted to upgrade, making the futures of Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells uncertain.
A .297 lifetime hitter, Ellsbury batted .298 with nine home runs, 53
RBIs and a Major League-leading 52 stolen bases in 134 games for Boston
last season. He is two years removed from a terrific 2011 campaign in
which he batted .321 with a career-high 32 home runs and 105 RBIs,
earning his only All-Star selection and a Gold Glove Award in center
Taking place so quickly back to back, the signings of Ellsbury and
McCann draw instant reminders of the Yankees' 2008-09 spending spree.
That winter, the Yanks rallied to secure free agents CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, responding to their absence from postseason play for the first time in more than a decade.
It also raises questions about how the Yankees view their situation with second baseman Robinson Cano.
Negotiations have sat at a standstill for weeks, and the club has been
waiting for Cano to move closer to their reported offer of a seven-year
deal worth between $160 million and $170 million.
Cano slightly budged off his original 10-year, $305 million request,
but not enough for there to be significant progress, and the Yankees
said that they would move on with their other needs. Ellsbury's contract
may have reduced some of the available funds that the Yanks have for
Cano, particularly if they still intend to keep their payroll under $189
million in 2014.
And the Yankees aren't done shopping. Cashman has said that he also
needs to import 400 innings for the rotation, shore up the bullpen and
reinforce the left side of the infield, as well as sort out whether the
Yanks are moving forward with or without Cano. The New York Post
reported the Yankees were close to a one-year deal with Kelly Johnson, who can play second base and the outfield. He also has limited experience at first and third base.
It had been thought that the Yankees' primary interest was in switch-hitter Carlos Beltran,
given the club's reluctance to get involved with lengthy multiyear
deals. But the Yanks did not want to go to a third year with the
36-year-old Beltran, and there was a reversal of course in recent days
that led them back to Ellsbury.
The Yankees and Boras spoke conceptually about Ellsbury at the
General Managers Meetings last month in Orlando, Fla., setting the stage
for talks to come. The left-handed-hitting Ellsbury had spent his
seven-year big league career with the Red Sox, ending his time in Boston
by celebrating the club's World Series title this past October before
following a path forged in free agency years ago by Johnny Damon.