[It was such a ridiculously active day already today that I figured I was in the clear to go play some tennis and get a milkshake. No dice. Curse you, unusually-active pre-Winter Meetings baseball offseason!]
Ah, remember that time the New York Yankees sat out the big ticket items? That was a nice one year.
According to multiple reports, the Yankees have grabbed their next big name of the offseason (having already signed Brian McCann), and it’s Jacoby Ellsbury, formerly of the Red Sox. He gets seven years and $153 million, according to Mark Feinsand. It’s the kind of absurd – but explicable – deal we expected to see this offseason, and it’s only fitting that the Yankees would usher it in. The Yankees just paid for Ellsbury almost 90% of the amount they’re offering to Robinson Cano. Ridiculous.
The Cubs had long been mentioned as a stealth candidate on Ellsbury, but, as I said all along, the only way it could happen is if he went a couple months without finding a serious nine-figure suitor, and then the Cubs nabbed him on the cheap in February. Thankfully for my own credibility, I made sure to always append those comments with some variation of “but I don’t think that’ll actually happen.” And here we are, with Ellsbury getting the kind of absurdly large contract that I figured he would get … and hoped he would get from a team not named the Cubs. I am perfectly comfortable with how this played out.
As for the Yankees, their quest to stay under the $189 million luxury tax cap is apparently not imperiled by this signing (plus McCann). They reportedly plan to still try and re-sign Robinson Cano and a starting pitcher. Clearly they know that MLB is gifting them some $25 million in luxury cap space in the form of an Alex Rodriguez suspension, and, sadly, signing Cano after Ellsbury doesn’t make nabbing Tanaka dicey. Really rough math here (courtesy of Cot’s contracts, a calculator, and quick arbitration guesses), but I’ve got the Yankees at about $135 million in payroll after signing McCann. Ellsbury puts them at $152 million, and Cano would put them around $180 million. An ARod suspension brings them down to $155 million. Miscellaneous other moves (and the expenses tied to payroll that every team has) probably bring that back up to about $165 to $170 million. Still plenty of room to grab Tanaka and stay under the $189 million mark. Again, this is real quick and dirty stuff, so I’m open to being corrected on the math (or if I missed a big chunk of money somewhere).