Jacoby Ellsbury, the former rival Red Sox center fielder, will now be batting, fielding, and stealing bases for the Yankees. Today’s press conference in New York introduced Ellsbury to New York media as their new #22. Ellsbury and his wife Kelsey were welcomed into the Yankee family at their own press conference. Ellsbury signed his 7-year, $153 million deal, with an option for an 8th year. He expressed how he felt wanted and respected by the Yankees instantly, speaking with new teammates Jeter and Teixeira before making the decision to sign with the Yankees. And having just come off a World Series championship, Ellsbury is anxious to keep the ball rolling and adding to the Yankee center field legacy (a la DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris, and Williams).
Girardi, Cashman, and Steinbrenner expressed their gratitude and excitement with Ellsbury joining the club. Girardi even went on to gush about his speed around the bases, recalling him stealing every base at some point in his career, and saying he was glad that Ellsbury was no longer going to be a “thorn in their side”.
Other comments have been made regarding Ellsbury’s comment of feeling very “wanted” by the Yankees, as recently departed former Yankees have expressed their feelings of “unwantedness” by the Yankees. The Yankees have come out to say that they have a policy against signing players over age 30 to large 10-year contracts because of the natural decrease of productivity after that age. (Quick side note here: if you’re over 30, you know that “natural decrease” all too well and can probably imagine the rapidity at which a consistent elite level of playing might increase it.)
When asked about that player not feeling wanted by the Yankees, Cashman said, “I’m sorry he feels that way. I understand that that’s also usually a part of the process when things don’t go the way you want them to go from both ends.” Cashman said he would throw anything at him, “bouquets, bouquets, bouquets. I’ll throw him bouquets all he wants, but I couldn’t throw him [such a large contract].”
Yankees President Randy Levine used two examples of where a 10-year contract makes sense for the Yankees. In February 2001, they gave Jeter a 10-year contract; Jeter turned 27 that year, so that made sense. Levine went on to mention another current non-Yankee in his early-20’s who they might sign (as an example) to a 10-year contract when he becomes a free agent in his mid-20’s. This caused a bit of a stir through the MLB community as someone seemed to think Levine was trying to poach or sign the young player now. Levine apologized to the player’s current club and MLB saying that wasn’t his idea, but rather just using an example that made sense in that context.
Cashman also inferred there are still many things on the table as far as negotiations. The Yankees picked up a minor league pitcher for the Chris Stewart trade to the Pirates. There were some potential signings, but they have been signed elsewhere. Reliever Boone Logan signed with the Rockies, and Joba Chamberlain is on his way to Detroit. There are holes, but almost everyone agrees that the Yankees have one of the best starting rosters in the AL East, if not baseball. And while we’re only a few weeks from the end of 2013, there’s still a good portion of time before Spring Training, let alone Opening Day. The pieces are falling into place, and 2014 is going to be very interesting to watch.
Also, I just want to extend our thoughts and prayers to the students and families of the Colorado high school as they recover and heal from today’s horrific tragedy.