ORLANDO, Fla. — You can see the parallels, can’t you?
A year ago, the Yankees held Brian McCann as a veteran pushed out of his old job, armed with a full no-trade clause.
Now, the Yankees hold Jacoby Ellsbury as a veteran pushed out of his old job, armed with a full no-trade clause.
For the moment, those parallels stop there. Which is why Ellsbury following McCann’s trail out of The Bronx this winter doesn’t rank as a slam dunk. Such a transaction will require far more effort and financial sacrifice on the Yankees’ part and, likely, more open-mindedness on Ellsbury’s part.
Consider this for starters: By the general managers’ meetings last year — which actually took place a week earlier on the calendar — Brian Cashman already had engaged McCann and his agent about the situation. As of Tuesday afternoon, Cashman had taken no similar action with Ellsbury and his agent Scott Boras, a reflection that an Ellsbury trade doesn’t rank among the Yankees’ top priorities.
“We haven’t had any discussions other than status quo, as far as I’m concerned,” Boras told The Post at the GM meetings.
“I haven’t even approached Scott,” Cashman said. “They have the full no-trade for a reason and I would walk through that process with the highest level of communication and respect because of it. And so I haven’t connected with Scott at all, but I know he’s here somewhere. I know I’ll get a chance to talk to him before I leave, just generally about everything Scott Boras-related for the winter, and I’m sure we’ll also talk about Jacoby as well.”
Ellsbury experienced an up-and-down 2017 with the Yankees, missing more than a month recovering from a concussion and registering a .264/.348/.402 slash line in his fourth year of the seven-year, $153 million contract that has proven to be a considerable overpay. While he put up his best month (.337/.436/.477) in September, helping the Yankees secure the top American League wild-card slot, he then vanished in the postseason, starting just four games (all at designated hitter) and finishing 0-for-9 with two walks.
“We ended with the current setup of [Aaron] Judge in right, [Aaron] Hicks in center and Gardy [Brett Gardner] in left for a reason,” Cashman said. “They were the best that we had. I think we would anticipate going in that way again.”
The Yankees also have outfield prospect Clint Frazier, who is currently blocked by the veterans.
However, the free-agent departures of Todd Frazier and Matt Holliday, combined with the Yankees’ intention to get under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold, could leave the designated-hitter spot open to rotate guys who need rest as well as someone like Ellsbury, who could give Judge a blow (with Hicks shifting over to right field) against tough right-handed starting pitchers.
Now, the Yankees have been busier than last year, with a healthy postseason run and a manager search. An Ellsbury trade could still come to fruition. Yet whereas they ate a relatively manageable portion of McCann’s salary ($11 million of $34 million) and received two interesting pitchers in return, the trade market for Ellsbury looks unappetizing when you look at the money owed him (roughly $68.5 million over the next three years) and the glut of outfielders available via either free agency or trade. The Yankees would have to eat well over half of the money owed Ellsbury and not expect a big return.
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