Even though the Yankees have traded for Giancarlo Stanton and have been involved in trade discussions with the Orioles Manny Machado. For Yankees fans being able to rid themselves of Jacoby Ellsbury and his contract would send Yankee Universe into a frenzy of celebration. Lately there have been multiple reports saying the Yankees and Diamondbacks have discussed a trade that would send Jacoby Ellsbury to the Diamondbacks in return for former cy young winner, Zack Greinke.
The thought of the trade makes sense, the Yankees swap off a bad contract to take on a more lucrative deal, and the Diamondbacks get a cheaper contract to help bolster their outfield, and could even move Ellsbury somewhere else for additional salary relief; however, as you dive into the numbers you begin to realize that this trade doesn’t make sense for either team.
To begin with Jacoby Ellsbury has a full no trade clause and at the end of the day if he has no interest in playing elsewhere the Yankees can only release him. This handcuffs the Yankees in some regards because opposing teams know the Yanks only have so many options they can utilize. On the flip side Diamondback ace, Zack Greinke has a 15 team limited no trade clause that will allow him to veto a trade to 15 teams. In the past Greinke’s off the field health issues were said to be one of the hurdles to him ever playing in the big apple, but he would have to OK a trade just to come to the Yankees.
If both players felt the deal made sense for them and accepted the trade. The next hurdle would be the contracts. When you dive further into these contracts you see a troubling issue. Ellsbury is essentially owed 21 mil through 2020 and has a club option of a 5 million dollar buy out in 2021 which will certainly be exercised. Greinke is signed one extra year than Ellsbury and his contract runs through 2021 where he will be coming off of his 38 year old season. Greinke will have a luxury tax hit of 34.6 million per season if traded to the Yankees. The Yankees have notoriously been on record as saying they will in fact reset the luxury tax. This limits the Yankees on how much more payroll they’re able to take on. Greinke would cost the Yankees an additional 13.5 million per season and they would also have to pay him an extra season since he is signed through 2021.
As you dive further through this trade we come to look at performance. Ellsbury’s tenure as a Yankee has been underwhelming to say the least. In his Yankee career he has batted .264 and though his numbers aren’t that bad you do have to consider that this is someone making almost 22 million a season. He has never been able to replicate the same success he had at Fenway with the Boston Red Sox. Ellsbury did have a .348 on base percentage in 2017 which was only .007 points away from his final season with the Red Sox, but he has simply not lived up to his contract and with the addition of Stanton and emergence of Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, and Aaron Hicks. Jacoby Ellsbury has found himself without a job.
On the flip side Zack Greinke finds himself in a very similar situation. He has underwhelmed through his first two years of the contract, but still has posted a respectable 3.71ERA, but that is a far cry from what a 34+ million dollar pitchers results would be. He did bounce back from a bad 2016 which is ERA was 4.37 and was able to finish 2017 with a 3.20ERA.
The question you have to ask is: are the Yankees willing to add an additional 13 million a year on top of Ellsbury’s contract for Zack Greinke as well as paying him 34.6 million in 2021 as opposed to Ellsbury whose deal is up in 2020. You add 13 million a year to Ellsbury’s deal plus an extra year for a pitcher who will be 38 at the end of the 2021 season. This doesn’t sound like a deal the Yankees would be interested in especially considering that the Yankees are continuing to fight their way under the 197 million dollar luxury tax threshold.
On the flip side the Diamondbacks would gain nothing by trading their ace, sending cash to the Yankees, and taking on Ellsbury’s bad contract. Ellsbury to the Diamondbacks does make sense in regards to the Diamondbacks needing outfield depth. Ellsbury is an average player who will post solid results and does a lot of things the right way, but he’s not worth his outlandish 21+ million annually through 2020. The Yankees could look to get about half of Ellsbury’s contract paid for, but some analysts think some teams would take his entire deal if some of the young yankee outfield depth was involved in the trade; however, given the Yankees unwillingness to trade away young talent that seems unlikely at the moment.
Also consider for a moment that the Diamondbacks find themselves in a curious situation. They had a great 2017 and look like they can compete again in 2018. After the trade of Fernando Rodney to the Twins the direction of the Diamondbacks seems somewhat unknown. If they’re inclined to contend in 2018 trading Greinke in the first place seems counter productive.
Ellsbury to the Diamondbacks could very well happen, but a trade that would include Greinke coming back the other way seems impossible and very unlikely to happen at this point with so many hurdles to overcome.
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