Yankees sign Jacoby Ellsbury to 7-year, $153M contract
BY PAUL WHITE USA Today Sports December 3, 2013 9:00PM
Boston Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury hits a single during the third inning of Game 6 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Updated: December 3, 2013 9:06PM
The New York Yankees, after bluffing that they would slash their payroll this winter, exposed their hand Tuesday night to the baseball world.
Yep, the Yankees are back to being the old Yankees.
Budgets be damned.
The Yankees reached a tentative agreement Tuesday night with prized free-agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury on a seven-year contract for $153 million, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. The person was unauthorized to speak publicly because the deal has not been announced by the Yankees.
The Yankees, who have spent much of the year discussing plans to lower their payroll below the $189 million luxury tax figure in 2014, have now dropped more than $235 million in the free-agent market with Ellsbury and catcher Brian McCann, whose five-year, $85 million contract was officially announced earlier in the day.
And, yes, a Yankees official intimated Tuesday night, they still badly would like to re-sign second baseman Robinson Cano. The Yankees have already offered Cano a seven-year, $160 million contract, but Cano is seeking at least $90 million more in his recent talks.
The Yankees already have a payroll of about $138 million for luxury-tax purposes, and that’s for only 10 players.
Then again, that counts Alex Rodriguez’s $27.5 million salary, which would come off the books if arbitrator Fred Horowitz upholds Rodriguez’ 211-game suspension through at least the 2014 season.
But, hey, it’s just money right?
The Yankees, who missed the playoffs for only the second time in 18 years this past season, are making sure there’s no repeat in 2014, no matter the financial consequences.
The Yankees, who will pay a record $29.1 million luxury tax penalty for their $236 million payroll in 2013, according to salary figures obtained by USA TODAY Sports, actually reiterated their desire to lower their payroll just three weeks ago.
“That’s the goal,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman told USA TODAY Sports at the general manager meetings. “The main reason is instead of giving all of the money to the 29 other owners that are receiving that benefit, we would rather have our fan base receive it by putting it back into our franchise rather than giving to other competitors’ pockets.”
The Yankees built a dynasty when they never cared about something so frivolous as a budget. Now, on the heels of an injury-plagued, playoff-less 85-win season, they’re making sure they’re again the bullies of the neighborhood.
They’re still involved in virtually every marquee free agent, and still want to add three more starting pitchers, including Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
And more significantly, they’re resurrecting the fury they unloaded on the rest of baseball when they failed to make the playoffs in 2008. They dropped $423 million on the 2008 winter free-agent market for starters CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, and first baseman Mark Teixeira.
Ten months later, they were having a World Series parade in lower Manhattan.
Apparently, they’re intent on having another parade in 11 months.
“Ultimately, making the playoffs and not making the playoffs,” Cashman told USA TODAY Sports in November, “is less important as much as trying to win a World Series. ou’re either good enough or you’re not. Last year, we weren’t good enough.
“We’ve got to find ways to get to the point where we are good enough, no matter how long it takes.”
Patience has never been a strong suit in the Bronx.
The Yankees are showing that once again.
The Yankees, who watched their TV ratings and attendance plummet last year, are back in the business of star power.
They not only brought in perhaps the best leadoff hitter in baseball, but stole Ellsbury from their hated rivals in Boston, just like in 2005 when they took Johnny Damon from the Red Sox a year after the Red Sox’s first World Series title in 86 years.
Déjà vu, all over again.
The captivating subplot in all of this, is powerful agent Scott Boras. He represents Ellsbury, just like he did Damon.
He also happened to be Cano’s agent before Cano dumped him this year for entertainer Jay-Z.
With Ellsbury in the fold, guess whose leverage took a huge hit?
The Yankees may have won the sweepstakes, and Boras might have just gotten the last laugh.