The New York Yankees have agreed to sign outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. The deal, which was first reported as close by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, is pending a physical.
Ellsbury, who won his second World Series with the rival Red Sox just over a month ago, heads to the Yankees in a move that triggers memories of Johnny Damon's signing after the 2005 season. The Red Sox were interested in bringing back their star center fielder, but will now look to fill the void his absence leaves by shifting Shane Victorino to center field and signing a free agent right fielder.
Ellsbury is the second member of the World Series champions to leave Boston today, joining Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Miami Marlins. The Sox replaced Saltalamacchia with A.J. Pierzynski, and are expected to be very active in their search to replace Ellsbury's lost offense.
Ellsbury, who hit .298 with 9 HR and 53 RBI in 2013 with the Sox, will provide a jolt of speed and power at the top of the Yankees' lineup, replacing Curtis Granderson, who is also a free agent. With Ellsbury and catcher Brian McCann locked up to large contracts this winter, the Yankees seem unlikely to bring back second baseman Robinson Cano, who is seeking a $250-$260 million contract. But then again, they're the Yankees, so who knows.
With Ellsbury off the table, teams looking for outfield help will likely turn to Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz, the three top free agent outfielders left on the market. At this point, the Royals seem most likely to add Beltran while the Tigers are prioritizing Choo. It is unclear if the Red Sox will jump into the Choo market now that Ellsbury is gone, but they have had at least some interest in Beltran and could pursue Cruz as well.