It was big news earlier this week when free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury went from the Red Sox to the Yankees. He agreed to a seven-year, $153 million dollar deal with New York with a 2021 option at $16 million.
That is a whopper of a deal.
I think the Yankees got a heckuva player, but paid way too big a price. There is a reason that his own team, which has some of its own very deep pockets, didn’t offer Ellsbury that much. I can only imagine the outrage in Baltimore if an Orioles star player went to New York. I think we know a little something about that here.
But back to Ellsbury. Is he better than Adam Jones? That is probably a close call and up to your individual preference. Ellsbury clearly offers more in the speed and on-base department and Jones offers more offensive production and power. Jones has three All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves while Ellsbury has one of each. We would be comparing a leadoff hitter to a middle-of-the-order hitter here. But here is how they stack up in some career stats:
Jones - .279 average, .322 OBP, .460 slugging, .781 OPS
Ellsbury - .297 average, .350 OBP, .439 slugging, .789 OPS
While Ellsbury will now average $21.9 million per year, Jones averages $14.3 million per season on the six-year, $85.5 million dollar deal he signed with the Orioles on May 26, 2012.
These players are close in talent, but Jones’ deal is now a bargain by comparison. Also, Jones is 28 and Ellsbury is 30 and some question signing a player that relies on speed to such a deal as he hits the other side of 30.
Here is one big difference between the two players - Jones has averaged 155 games per season over the last four years and Ellsbury has averaged 96. Ellsbury will have a hard time living up to this contract as is, but if he can’t stay on the field, he simply won’t be able to do it. New York took a big risk in that regard.
Here is one way that deal could actually help the Orioles: If it leads Robinson Cano away from the Yankees, say to Seattle.
Whether Cano gets frustrated with how the Yankees are dealing with him, gets a better offer elsewhere or New York simply can’t afford him now (unlikely I know), losing the star second baseman would be a big blow to the Yankees.
Sure New York could spend the money elsewhere and sign several other players. But Cano is the straw that stirs the drink, their best player and a player they should not go forward without.
If the net result of this is New York adding Ellsbury and losing Cano, that is a net gain for the Orioles.