There’s no hiding that the New York Yankees would like to trade Jacoby Ellsbury.
After acquiring Giancarlo Stanton and having to pay the reigning National League MVP $265 million over the next decade, the Yankees were still about $20 million under the $197 million luxury tax threshold.
Since they still wanted to make some additional moves, their mission after the trade was to shed payroll. They did exactly that with their trade of Chase Headley and his $13 million salary to the San Diego Padres.
That was a big help, but trading Ellsbury and his contract would be much more impactful for the Bronx Bombers.
At this point, any trade for Ellsbury wouldn’t require talent from an interested team, but rather the team taking on most of or preferably all of the remaining $68.4 million owed to him.
In addition to his contract, Ellsbury won’t be easy to move for the Yankees due to his no-trade clause. Towards the beginning of the offseason, it looked like he wouldn’t budge on the idea of a trade.
That has changed recently according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Now it appears that Ellsbury might consider waiving it for a few teams; the San Francisco Giants being one of them.
Matt Cerrone of Metsblog recently heard 12 rumors and ideas from MLB Insiders. One of which involved Ellsbury.
“Jacoby Ellsbury may be a nice platoon partner for Juan Lagares, but the Yankees are only willing to pay one-third of his salary, which would only reduce him to a $15 million player,” wrote Cerrone.
If Ellsbury does costs about $15 million for next season instead of about $21 million, that puts him on a similar level to Jason Kipnis (owed $13.7 in 2018), whom the Mets were likely to trade for before the Cleveland Indians squashed any ideas of trading the second baseman.
However, there are many reasons why a trade for Ellsbury makes zero sense for the Mets.
First of all, it would be hard to believe that the Mets are among the select few teams he’d waive his no-trade clause for. While it’s possible the Mets could bounce back from their 70-92 finish in 2017, it’s difficult to call them playoff contenders currently.
If the Mets aren’t competitive, the only logical reason Ellsbury would even consider them is if he really wants to stay in New York. Otherwise, the Mets are not a popular landing zone at the moment.
To even waste time working out a deal that he’d likely not waive his no-trade clause for isn’t the best use of Sandy Alderson’s time.
Also it has been no secret that money is tight in Queens for whatever reasons.
In October, it was reported that the Mets had around $30 million to spend this offseason. A few days ago it was reported that the budget is now down to roughly $10 million. That’s only after signing Anthony Swarzak to a two-year, $14 million deal; $8.5 million of which will be backloaded into 2019.
By trading for Ellsbury, the Mets wouldn’t have room for any other moves.
At least with Kipnis, the Mets would be improving a position with a younger player that has higher upside. With Ellsbury the Mets would get a 34-year-old, injury-prone outfielder whose best years are likely behind him.
In 112 games during 2017, Ellsbury hit .264/.348/.402/.750 with 65 runs, seven home runs, 39 RBI, and 22 stolen bases. Additionally he had a -8.0 UZR/150 and -3 defensive runs saved in 807 1/3 innings in center field.
That was good for a 1.7 bWAR and 1.6 fWAR. Actually the only time he ever put up a negative WAR was in 2010 when he played in 18 games. It means that he’s not completely inessential, but rather overpaid for his current production.
The Mets couldn’t possibly slot a $15-$21 million platoon partner in with Juan Lagares given their current budget. There’s no reason to replace Lagares with Ellsbury either.
In 94 games this past season, Lagares provided the Mets with a 1.8 bWAR and 1.5 fWAR. That’s even with anemic offensive production from the 28-year-old.
If Lagares were to become even just a league-average hitter, then the Mets have themselves a valuable center fielder; one whom you wouldn’t want hindered by a platoon partner like Ellsbury.
The Mets definitely need to get creative and think out of the box this offseason, but no matter how you look at it, Ellsbury makes no sense for the team now or going forward.