Remember when Jacoby Ellsbury was supposed to be the everyday center fielder for the New York Yankees that sparked the offense? Currently, he’s become the Yankees $153 million problem.
This past weekend in Seattle, Joe Girardi implied that he is putting Ellsbury on the bench to keep rookie outfielder Clint Frazier in the lineup, as he stated that he’s playing the hotter hand.
Here’s the thing, Joe Girardi should play Clint Frazier every day because he’s earned it. He hitting .304 with three home runs and nine RBI in his short time in the major leagues. The balls that Frazier are hitting lately are jumping off his bat and he’s breathing even more energy into the lineup.
So here’s the problem. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said that once Aaron Hicks returns from the disabled list, Frazier is likely to be sent back down to the minor leagues. Sending Clint Frazier down at this point would do the team and Clint Frazier a severe injustice considering he’s done nothing to deserve a demotion back to the minors.
So what do the Yankees do? They could try to move Brett Gardner, as his contract is an easier one to trade. But Brett Gardner is still productive, so moving him isn’t ideal. They could also try to deal Hicks once he returns, but he’s a switch hitting outfielder who’s played very well, so that’s not ideal either.
The only other solution is the most obvious one, although it’s the most difficult. The Yankees need to get rid of Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees, as of right now, are paying Ellsbury to be a $153 million pinch runner, which is what he was over the last few games and in the series against the Seattle Mariners.
Why is Ellsbury on the bench? In the month of June, he’s hitting .222. In the month of July, he’s hitting .189 and has dropped his average on the season to .249. In that time, no home runs, three RBI and just three steals. Those numbers wouldn’t even be good enough to start in Class-AAA Scranton, much less make $21 million a season to be a member of the Yankees.
So do the Yankees trade Ellsbury? It would be easier to do if he weren’t hitting so poorly. Nobody is taking on Ellsbury’s salary with him hitting that badly. Not even in a potential trade of bad contracts, so forget the Ellsbury for Justin Verlander idea we had a few weeks ago and forget the Ellsbury for Robinson Cano idea that we also talked about. None of that is happening when Ellsbury is hitting .189 in the month of July.
The Yankees may have no other choice other than to designate him for assignment and eat the remainder of the contract. It’s a lot of money to pay for Jacoby Ellsbury to go away and play elsewhere; the Yankees owe $84 million over the next three-plus seasons until the 2020 season. That’s a lot of money to owe a player who isn’t helping the current situation. The Boston Red Sox recently did it with Pablo Sandoval, as they paid him $67 million for him to go away when they designated him for assignment.
The Yankees may have no other choice but to take that route as well with Jacoby Ellsbury.
In hindsight, the Yankees never sign Ellsbury to this albatross of a deal and instead, swallow their pride to re-sign Robinson Cano. But now, they’re stuck with Jacoby Ellsbury’s deal on their books and even worse, they’re stuck with him taking up a roster spot.
So when Aaron Hicks does come back, the Yankees need to make the tough choice. And it shouldn’t involve sending Clint Frazier back to the minor leagues.
It should be how to get rid of Jacoby Ellsbury for good. Because he’s become a useless player on the Yankees.