When it comes to big-ticket free agents, the money, if not the grass, is always greener in the Bronx.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is leaving the Boston Red Sox, with whom he won two World Series, for the New York Yankees, agreeing to a seven-year, $153 million deal on Tuesday night. There’s an option for an eighth year that would increase it to $169 million, according to ESPN.
Same as it ever was.
For the Yankees, who don’t need no stinkin’ budget, the upside is that, in addition to gaining a center fielder, they play the role of Snidely Whiplash and take an important guy from their arch-rivals. Yes, it’s a lot of money and, yes, Ellsbury — dubbed the “Ellsbury dough boy” by both the New York Daily News and Post — will be 37 when the deal is up. But spending freely is as much a part of the Yankees as their pinstripes. Earlier this week, they added catcher Brian McCann for five years ago $85 million. They initially balked at giving Robinson Cano $300 million, but it’s not like they’re clipping coupons.
“They’re the Yankees,” an unnamed source told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor. “They’re always going to be the Yankees, and that’s never, ever going to change.”
So, if you’re scoring at home, that’s two big deals and the Yankees aren’t finished. Forget the old days, when the team developed the “core four” of Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte and Posada. And forget trying to make sense of the Yankees’ moves, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes. “[T]his reckless, show-their-financial-might signing by the Yankees makes no sense, other than being another example of the Yankees’ intention of buying their way out of a situation in which their player development department has been bankrupt for years.”
They’re the Yankees. It’s practically their raison de etre. As for Boston, Ellsbury’s departure registers lower on the seismic scale than Johnny Damon’s….so far. Gordon Edes called it “the latest haymaker by the Yankees” but notes that the organization is committed to smaller, smarter moves. Still, Edes writes, “… it’s undeniable that regardless of what he does in the coming weeks, [General Manager Ben] Cherington’s life would be considerably brighter today if Ellsbury had landed in Seattle with the Mariners, who also wanted him, than in New York, where every game with the Yankees for the next seven years will be a referendum on his judgment.”
Nick Cafardo, analyzing the deal for the Boston Globe, writes that the Red Sox had misgivings about Ellsbury’s to bounce back from injuries. “[P]erhaps the Yankees will experience this at some point in his tenure,” Cafardo writes. “He played through injuries toward the end of last season, a contract year, dealing with a fractured bone in his foot and with a swollen hand. It was the first time Ellsbury had shown some guts, and his teammates appreciated the effort.”