When the Yankees began the youth movement at least year’s trade deadline, the 2017 season was thought of as being a rebuild, in a sense. The Yankees planned on competing while also getting younger, which has allowed Aaron Judge and most recently, Clint Frazier to take over in the outfield. With a crowded outfield and an Aaron Hicks return from the DL looming, there has been increasing speculation from Mark Feinsand of MLB.com and others that the Yankees could look to trade Jacoby Ellsbury by the trade deadline or this offseason.
Ellsbury, who turns 34 in September, is in the middle of a seven-year, $153 million deal that runs through 2020. The deal also includes a team option for 2021 with a $5-million buyout. There is one kicker, though, and that is Ellsbury’s full no-trade clause.
With the no-trade clause, Ellsbury would have to approve any such trade, and there is a possibility he would decline any deals to stick with a contending Yankees team. However, after recently being benched in favor of Clint Frazier shifting Brett Gardner to center field, the Yankees could aggressively shop Ellsbury.
The underperforming outfielder has hit just .249/.324/.360 with four homers and 17 RBIs with eight doubles and one triple (13 XBH) in 58 games. To put that in perspective, Frazier has three homers and 11 RBIs to go along with six doubles and two triples (11 XBH) in just 16 games since being called up. Additionally, since returning from the DL on June 26th, Ellsbury is just 11-for-62 (.177 avg.) with two extra base hits in 19 games.
There has been much speculation that the Yankees could flip Ellsbury’s bad contract for a more productive player or pitcher with an expensive contract. Buster Olney of ESPN recently listed Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto of the Giants, Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Verlander of the Tigers, Robinson Cano of the Mariners and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins. Of that group, the best matches could be Verlander as the Tigers have been “aggressively shopping” him and Stanton as the Yankees have reportedly inquired about the Miami outfielder.
With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline just a week away, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman will surely be shopping Ellsbury but may be hard-pressed in getting a deal done with all the money involved.
One thing to consider is that Ellsbury would surely pass through waivers after July 31, and the Yankees could search for takers into August. If the Yankees are still unable to move Ellsbury, the team would love do anything possible to get rid of him before the 2018 season.