The New York Yankees have a bit of a situation once Jacoby Ellsbury returns from the disabled list.
Aaron Hicks has a firm grasp on the starting center field job to the point where he could be on the 2017 All-Star team next month. In 55 games, Hicks is hitting .302 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI and looks like the guy the Yankees wanted when they traded for him two years ago.
With Hicks, who gives the Yankees more value considering he’s younger and a switch hitter with some power, in firm control, what do the Yankees do with Ellsbury? They could make him the fourth outfielder and let him come off the bench.
Which is fine, although Ellsbury is more than just a fourth outfielder and who knows if his ego will let him become that. The Yankees could try Ellsbury out at another position like first base. But at Ellsbury’s age, would it even work out? Who knows.
The best thing to do with Ellsbury would be to trade him. Two years ago, Michael Kay of the YES Network and ESPN Radio had made the suggestion of trading Ellsbury to the Seattle Mariners with the Yankees getting Robinson Cano back. Despite Kay’s solid logic behind the trade, nothing ever came about of it. But it was two teams swapping large contracts to help in need at a position. Two years later, we have a trade that would work for both sides.
The Yankees trade Jacoby Ellsbury to the Detroit Tigers for Justin Verlander. Big salary for big salary type trade, just like the one of Cano for Ellsbury.
Verlander would work for the Yankees because they need another pitcher. With Masahiro Tanaka struggling and CC Sabathia on the disabled list, the Yankees could use another arm to help the rotation. Verlander might be 34, but he’s still proven to be an effective pitcher at this stage of his career. A year ago, Verlander finished second in the A.L. Cy Young voting and many thought he, and not Rick Porcello, should have won it.
Verlander would give the Yankees rotation another quality arm that they could use for a playoff push heading into the summer.
On the flip side, Ellsbury would be able to escape from New York and get a fresh start playing elsewhere. From the first day, Ellsbury has never fit the New York mold and scene. While he fit when he was with the Boston Red Sox, it hasn’t been the case in New York. Going to a team like the Tigers might be a welcomed thing. The Tigers don’t have a set center fielder, so Ellsbury could bring some stability to the spot in Detroit. He’d also play in a ballpark in Detroit that would cater to his skill set.
What also makes this trade more reasonable is their salaries.
The 33-year-old Ellsbury has four years and $84 million remaining on his deal with the Yankees. Verlander has three years and $84 million left on his contract. Both have options that likely will not be picked up, so they’re the same amount of money.
With the Tigers near the bottom of the A.L. Central, they look like a team destined to sell off. But trying to sell Verlander’s deal would be tough to do since he’s making $28 million this season. But if you can swing his deal for Jacoby Ellsbury, it would make sense. Plus, the Tigers would be saving $7 million per year if they make the deal.
While this would be more of a complicated trade to make mid-season, it’s one that makes a ton of sense for both sides.