Jacoby Ellsbury will be wearing a different jersey the next time he swings a bat in the Bronx.The New York Yankees would not be left out of a busy Tuesday of baseball transactions.
Media reports have them signing center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal.
What Ellsbury brings
Ellsbury’s top attribute is his speed. He has led the American League in stolen bases three times, including in 2013 when he stole 52 in 56 attempts.
Ellsbury has hit only 10 or more home runs in a season once. But when he did so, he did in a big way, hitting 32 in 2011.
Most Wins Above Replacement
Outfielders Since 2011
He should find the short porch of Yankee Stadium to be tempting. Of his 53 home runs in the past five seasons, 48 were hit to right or right center.
Ellsbury also rates as a high-caliber defensive player. The Yankees will have to decide between playing him or Brett Gardner in center field.
Last season, the two played almost the same number of innings at the position.
Ellsbury finished with 13 Defensive Runs Saved, sixth-best in the majors and seven more than Gardner.
Gardner has also shown that he can handle left field well. From 2010 to 2012, he led all left fielders with 50 Defensive Runs Saved.
Yankees needed to bolster their offense
The Yankees posted a .683 OPS as a team in 2013. That ranked fifth-worst in the majors, barely ahead of the cross-town rival Mets (.672).
The Yankees had ranked in the top three in the majors in OPS in every season from 2009 to 2012.
Ellsbury had a .781 OPS in 2013. Fellow free-agent signee Brian McCann was slightly better with a .796 OPS.
Primary concern: Injury risk
The key for the Yankees will be in keeping Ellsbury on the field.
Ellsbury finished with 8.1 Wins Above Replacement in 2011 and 5.8 WAR in 2013, but he missed nearly all of 2010 and more than half of 2012 due to injuries.
That’s a lot of money
Ellsbury’s reported seven-year deal would net him an average of $21.86 million per season. That’s about a million dollars more than he made in total from 2008 to 2013.
Signed Free Agent Deal W/ NYY
After Finishing Previous Season w/ BOS (since 1990-91)
Did You Know?
There are nine active players with at least 200 stolen bases and an 80 percent success rate on their steal attempts.
The signing of Ellsbury would give the Yankees, at least for the moment, three of them: Ellsbury, Ichiro Suzuki and Rodriguez. Brett Gardner could join that mix this coming season, as he enters with 161 steals and an 81 percent success rate.