Ellsbury, Yanks agree on seven-year deal
Contract is believed to be worth $153 million, with an option for the 2021 season
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 Wednesday.
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 field.
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.