The New York Yankees are in the midst of one of the most anticipated offseason since the inception of the concept. A team already stacked regarding talent that is looking to keep adding. But the latest rumors capture the heart of the adage of “Addition by Subtraction.” And those rumors and trade idea speculations surround the oft-injured Jacoby Ellsbury.
Jacoby Ellsbury was signed by the Yankees during the offseason of 2013-14 to a $153 Million 7 year deal. At the time the move was questioned as Jacoby was coming from the archnemesis Boston Red Sox. What also plagued Jacoby from the start was this was the deal that was made when homegrown star Robinson Cano departed for Seattle and their $240 Million, 10-year offer. Jacoby by default was seen as the retaliatory strike fired at Cano. Because the deal that Ellsbury’s ultimately signed was similar to the deal offered to Cano.
Ellsbury as a Yankee
The first year in Pinstripes for Jacoby was admirable. Ells would hit 16 home runs. Ironically more on the road than the short porch at home (9 away, 7 home). Jacoby would also drive in 70 and steal 39 bases. He would also hit for a slash line of 271/.328/.419. Numbers he would never again approach in a Yankee uniform.
Since that time Jacoby has had the epitome of an up and down career. As a Yankee, Jacoby played in 149 in 2014, then 11 in 2015. Then back up in 2016 at 148 followed by 2017’s 112 games played and big whopping goose egg of 0 games played in 2018. Now the numbers don’t always tell a full story but using Baseball Reference’s OPS+ as a measuring tool Ellsbury hasn’t been good.
Taken for $ 21 Million (a season)
OPS+ (according to BaseballReference.com) is a comparative tool that grades and gauges a players success relative to the era he played in and the run-scoring environment of the time. League average in OPS+ standards in 100. For Jacoby’s career in the Bronx, he has had an OPS+ of 111 (2014), 83 (2015), 88 (2016), 97 (2017). Aside from 2014, Jacoby has been viewed as a below league average player. And even if we say 2017 was a good year the back and forth nature of Jacoby’s play does not warrant the $21 Million (plus) he is making a season.
Ellsbury to Philly?
Recently an MLB.com article by Mark Feinsand posed a trade idea that warrants further examination. The article postulated that a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury and Tommy Kahnle for the Philadelphia Phillies Carlos Santana might just be crazy enough to work. Over the next two seasons, Ellsbury and Santana will make approximately $47 Million and $41 respectively. Meaning there wouldn’t need to be a massive transfer of dollars to make a deal work. Plus it would be a move that could benefit both clubs. As the Yankees aren’t entirely set at first base, following rumors of trading for Paul Goldschmidt or potentially signing Bryce Harper to play first.
Carlos Santana is an established first baseman with a great eye at the plate that is capable of working counts and getting on base at a consistent rate. Jacoby Ellsbury would fit a need for the Phillies as current center fielder Odubel Herrera has shown the inability to play consistently when in the field or at the plate. When Jacoby is healthy, he can impact the game with his legs. Ellsbury is a solid defender despite having a less than average throwing arm. And he also is capable of working counts and being a pesky hitter in the box. Something that the Phillies struggled with in 2018.
Clincher in the Deal
And let’s not forget the other part of the proposed deal, Tommy Kahnle. It’s no secret among Yankee fans that Kahnle is an avid Eagles fan. And for him playing in the City of Brotherly Love could bring about a resurgence in his focus. Kahnle struggled with the Yankees in 2018, and because of his struggles spent much of the season in Triple-A. Kahnle can work through any mechanical or mental issues in the big leagues. Because while young and primed to compete, Philly is not expected to be super competitive this upcoming season.
Adding Kahnle into the deal gives Philly two years of control over a quality arm and a veteran in the outfield. This trade would allow the Phillies to better align their team as stud player Rhys Hoskins can be moved back to first base (where he belongs). And can shift Odubel into a corner spot. Where he can cover up some lack of focus mistakes with his speed. This deal also gives the Yankees a first baseman. One they can rely on defensively and as the switch-hitter can provide protection in the lineup. This would be a good deal for all parties involved. That is if both Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Santana would agree to waive their No-Trade Clauses. So as of now, it’s just an idea, but a very sound idea it is.