We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a new feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."
Today's Candidate: Jacoby Ellsbury
Position: Center fielder
Age: Turned 30 on Sept. 11
2013 numbers: .298-9-53 with a .781 OPS in 134 games for the Boston Red Sox.
Expected going rate: Steep. Ellsbury made $9 million last year, and with his tools and relative youth, he will command plenty of attention on the free-agent market. Having the showcase of an excellent postseason so far, and a World Series, doesn't hurt, either. And, oh yeah, his agent's name is Scott Boras.
The Ups: Speed and more speed. Ellsbury is a prototypical, top-of-the-order hitter who gets on base a lot -- his .355 OBP was better than any AL center fielder's other than Mike Trout's -- and isn't afraid to steal. He's led the league in steals in three of his four full (non-injury-shortened) big league seasons, peaking with 70 swipes in 2009. His 32 home runs in 2011 was obviously an aberration -- he hasn't reached double figures in any other season -- but as a left-handed bat, he might hit 15 or so at Yankee Stadium. He also won a Gold Glove and finished second in the AL MVP voting in 2011.
The Downs: Injuries and more injuries. He had broken ribs in 2010, a separated shoulder in 2012 and a broken foot this year. He has missed substantial time in three of his past four seasons. Plus, his price. In addition to the Red Sox, there could be as many as a half dozen bidders for Ellsbury. Then, the position. The Yankees already have a center fielder. And the style of play. Brett Gardner is a similar player in almost all respects, except he doesn't steal as often. How many Brett Gardners does a lineup need?
The verdict: Pass. Ellsbury is a very good player, but not really a fit for the Yankees' lineup or budget. With Gardner in center, they need power at the corners. And if you move Gardner to a corner, you need power out of the center fielder. Better off looking elsewhere.