ESPN’s Buster Onley would tweet an idea that sparked a lot of debate. In a deal reminiscent of yesteryear, the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants would make a trade of bad contract for bad contract. And the players involved would be Jacoby Ellsbury and Johnny Cueto. Here’s our thoughts on the pros and cons of the idea.
Why It Could Work
The Yankees have a plethora of outfielders. This “fact” has been told to us on several occasions, as to the reason the Yanks weren’t “in” on Bryce Harper. Moving Jacoby Ellsbury would give the Yankees the option to pursue the immensely talented yet divisive superstar. Or the Yankees could provide a healthy Clint Frazier with the opportunity to grab hold of a starting job. The Yankees would be without Johnny Cueto for most of the 2019 season as he is recovering from Tommy John Surgery. So that would give the Yankees three seasons of production from Cueto. And they could also receive some of his 2019 cost offset by insurance. The Giants need help in that expansion Orale Park (fka AT&T Park) outfield. And they could use someone capable of playing centerfield.
The Yankees would also get rid of Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury has been almost a non-factor for much of his Yankee tenure. And when you consider the likelihood that a healthy Ellsbury would take away the availability of Clint playing in the Majors this season. And also having Ellsbury’s $48 million on the books is likely the excuse used against bringing in Bryce Harper, trading away Jacoby makes so much sense for the betterment of not just the 2019 New York Yankees. But also moving forward, because as the next three seasons come to pass Ells will be even less of a factor than he already is now.
Why It Wouldn’t Work
Let’s start off with the obvious elephant in the room, Jacoby has a Full No-Trade Clause in his contract. This means the Ellsbury and his “super” agent Scott Boras must be involved in the discussion and ultimately approve the trade request. That is where the problem begins. As Scott and Jacoby are likely to veto the trade request for a couple of possible reasons. First, while no trade request has officially been placed in front of them, Scott has been outspoken of Ellsbury’s desire to remain a New York Yankee. And while Jake’s “desire” is debatable, there is no debate that Boras was Ellsbury to remain a Yankee.
The second problem that would befall the trade is something I briefly mentioned in the previous section. And that is the fact that Jacoby has $48 million left on his current deal with the Bombers. Bringing in Johnny Cueto would bring along his $68 million on the remaining four years of his current Giants deal.
Should the Swap be Made?
If you ask for the popular consensus from Yankee fans, many would probably be on board with getting rid of Ellsbury. The potential of adding another starting pitcher late in the season without giving up valuable prospects is certainly tantalizing. And when we think back to the last few images mentality of Cueto pitching. We think about the post-season for the 2015 World Series winning Kansas City Royals. And the post-season performance against the 2016 World Series winning Chicago Cubs we think of a very “clutch” pitcher.
But the question must be asked which pitcher would the Yankees be receiving back in the deal. A pitcher of the highest caliber? Or would they be receiving the Jacoby Ellsbury of pitching?