Commitment excites Jacoby Ellsbury

Updated: December 13, 2013, 6:46 PM ET
By Matt Ehalt | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- After helping the Boston Red Sox to their eighth World Series title this fall and third in 10 years, Jacoby Ellsbury is out to galvanize the rival New York Yankees to their 28th championship.

Girardi Jacoby, you are going to make my job a lot easier. You no longer are a thorn in my side. You are a flower in our clubhouse, and I'm happy to have you.

-- Yankees manager Joe Girardi, welcoming Jacoby Ellsbury to New York

"I felt I had seven great years there, and last year was a great season," said Ellsbury, who will wear No. 22 with the Yankees. "That's what it's all about, winning championships, and I was very fortunate to be part of that team. Seven great years.

"Now I'm looking forward to the next seven to eight years of my career. Hopefully we can be holding that trophy."

The Yankees officially introduced Ellsbury as their newest offseason addition Friday at Yankee Stadium. The 30-year-old center fielder signed a seven-year, $153 million contract with a club option for an eighth year that could push the deal to $169 million.

"I talk a lot about the tradition, the great players that play here, the commitment to winning," Ellsbury said. "That's important ... and [so is] just going out there and having a good time. The guys that have played here told me, 'You're going to love playing here,' and the chance to win championships.

"Their commitment to winning, that's what really excites me."

After missing the playoffs for the second time in 19 seasons, the Yankees have acted aggressively to reshape their roster. They signed catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million deal and added Ellsbury to stabilize the top of their lineup and upgrade their defense.

[+] EnlargeJacoby Ellsbury
AP Photo/John MinchilloJacoby Ellsbury will go from being No. 2 in Boston to No. 22 with the Yankees, the same number longtime Red Sox ace Roger Clemens chose upon signing with New York after two Cy Young seasons as a Blue Jay.

Ellsbury is the highest-profile Boston player to leave the Red Sox for the Yankees in free agency since Johnny Damon signed with New York after the 2005 season. Ellsbury played on World Series winners in 2007 and 2013 and hit .297 with 65 homers, 314 RBIs and 241 stolen bases during his time with Boston.

Last season, he led MLB with 52 stolen bases while hitting .298 with nine homers and 53 RBIs.

The Yankees are glad to have him on their side.

"I've seen him get base hits. I've seen him hit home runs. I've seen him steal second. I've seen him steal third. I even had the pleasure of watching him steal home off of Andy Pettitte when I was standing right behind him and we were all screaming at Andy," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Seen him make great catches that have changed the complexion of the scores between the Red Sox and Yankees.

"Jacoby, you are going to make my job a lot easier. You no longer are a thorn in my side. You are a flower in our clubhouse, and I'm happy to have you."

Ellsbury declined to discuss how aggressive the Red Sox were in trying to retain him, but he said the Yankees -- including Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira -- showed great interest in him from the start and let him know they really wanted him in the Bronx.

"I have nothing but great things to say about my old team," Ellsbury said. "I'm truly honored to be here. Obviously, it's going to be fun when I go back to Boston.

"I'm excited to be here. I know the rivalry, being from the AL East. It's an exciting time. Just happy to put on this jersey and hat."

One concern about Ellsbury is his history of injuries, as he played in just 18 games in 2010 and 74 games in 2012. He also played through a compression fracture in his right foot in the playoffs, but he said he's fine now.

"We're excited to have the opportunity to hopefully run him out there as much as we possibly can over the next seven years," general manager Brian Cashman said. "And the more so we can, the better we'll be. It's as simple as that.

"I can't dismiss he's had some health issues up there. There's no doubt about it."

Even with the Ellsbury signing, the Yankees are still making moves. They have yet to officially announce a three-year, $45 million deal with outfielder Carlos Beltran, and Cashman said the team is still looking for infield help, particularly at second or third base, and pitching.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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