We had heard that the Yankees were interested, as you would have expected them to be. Ellsbury is one of the better leadoff hitters in the game. He hits for average, gets on base, steals bases, and plays a good center field. A left-handed hitter with a short right field porch, and a proven winner on top of that, he seems like a good fit for the Bronx.
What concerns many, including me, is that he's 30 years old and he relies on his legs. He's also injury prone. Ellsbury stole 52 bases last year, but played in only 134 games. Over the last four seasons, he's played a full year just once. When healthy, he's really good. But he hasn't been able to stay on the field, and for a guy his age with his skill set, that's not a good sign.
What's most alarming about this signing, and yet another aspect that should not surprise you, is the Yankees' willingness to take on another risky, long-term contract. They got burned by Alex Rodriguez, just like so many other teams have gotten burned by giving out generous deals with far too many guaranteed years to aging players.
It's almost as if teams, in this case the Yankees, can't stop themselves from spending money, even when they try to convince you, as the Yankees have been doing, that there's a limit to how much they'll spend. After Ellsbury and Brian McCann (5 years, $85 million), and with more holes to fill, we'll see if that $189 cap is still in effect.
Say what you want about the Ellsbury signing, it's been overshadowed by talk about what's going to happen with Robinson Cano. The Yankees are reportedly interested in signing Cano to a contract somewhere in the seven year, $165-$170 million range. Cano reportedly wants about $100 million more.
The Seattle Mariners are the latest rumored team to be interested in Cano. If he wants more than what the Yankees appear willing to offer, they should let him walk.
The last thing the Yankees need is another long-term contract for a player in his 30s. After all, they just added one more to their list.
Charles Costello has followed the Yankees for 30 years. He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the team during the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He writes about the Yankees and New York Giants on the Yahoo Contributor Network.
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- Jacoby Ellsbury
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