USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale is reporting jacoby ellsbury wife-ellsbury-free-agent-contract/3864129/">Jacoby Ellsbury has signed a seven-year contract with the New York Yankees that is in excess of $150 million, ending his seven-year stint with the Boston Red Sox.
Reactions to the deal were mixed. Some Red Sox and Yankees fans felt the signing was the second coming of the Johnny Damon deal, with the Yankees grabbing away another likable Red Sox center fielder and, in doing so, hurting their biggest rival.
This is silly. The Red Sox were never going to pay what Ellsbury (and his agent Scott Boras) wanted. Ellsbury is 30 years old and has been injury-prone is his career so far. The Yankees just gave him a seven-year deal. Let's count all the ways this is problematic.
1. The Yankees will be paying Jacoby Ellsbury $20 million a year until he's 37
So the Yankees just went through a nasty ordeal in which they needed a league suspension to get out of paying a declining superstar (Alex Rodriguez) a massive amount of money every year. So, granted this incredibly lucky reprieve, they turn around and offer a another massive contract to a guy entering his 30s? Um, what?
2. Ellsbury is known for his speed, something that typically declines in human beings when they are in their late 30s
Yankees fans lamented Alex Rodriguez's decline, and the massive amount of money he was owed, when his bat speed slowed down a bit. Know what deteriorates faster than bat speed in guys as they age? Speed speed. Ellsbury is a phenomenal hitter, but he relies as much on his legs as anything, both on offense and defense. We'll see how fast he is when he's 35, and how happy Yankees are that he still has two years left on his deal.
3. The Yankees already have Brett Gardner
Wait, the Yankees already have a speedy, 30-year-old center fielder who's stolen 50 bases in a season before? Yes, yes they do. Now, Ellsbury is a better player than Gardner. No one is arguing that. But is he that much of an improvement to justify spending $150 million over seven years? To the people who respond: "But Gardner is injury prone!" um, have you met Jacoby Ellsbury?
4. The Yankees have not learned from the mistakes of others
Two years ago, the Angels spent huge bucks to sign Albert Pujols. Last year, they spent huge money signing Josh Hamilton. Both were in their early thirties, and had produced big numbers up until that point. Both immediately fell off from their peak production, and now the Angels are saddled with two massive contracts, when all they want to do is build around their young phenom Mike Trout.
Everyone thought those two deals made the lessons clear: Don't pay guys for past performance. Don't overpay for guys entering the tail end of their careers. Don't get stuck with long-term deals with aging superstars that you'll regret later.
The Yankees apparently learned nothing from these deals. They threw big money at Ellsbury, and they'll probably throw big money to keep Robinson Cano, who is 31. If they can win a title in the next couple years with Ellsbury and Cano at the heart of their lineup, then they made a good call. If they miss that window, though, might be a rough few years in the Bronx.