Coming into this postseason and something they struggled with all of last season, the New York Yankees came in looking for starting pitching help.
Their ace CC Sabathia struggled all of last season and his production has gradually declined since becoming a Yankee in 2009, their ace for last season Hiroki Kuroda was excellent most of the year but just wore down towards the end. Their once promising young pitcher, Phil Hughes just kept getting worse and was at his lowest point in 2013, Andy Pettite was pretty solid for his age but missed a large part of the season on the disabled list.
Their brightest spot was the emergence of Ivan Nova who showed glimpses throughout the season of a capable pitcher who can carry a good workload throughout the season. So, their main objective was to go shore up their pitching staff with the retirement of Pettite, departure of Hughes through free agency and the Sabathia’s status as an ace in question.
Well, what have the Yankees done so far, sign their catcher for the next few seasons to a five-year $85 contract and have now replaced Curtis Granderson in the outfield with ex-Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees and Ellsbury have agreed to a seven-year, $153 million contract. The Yankees already had a solid outfield with Brett Gardner in center field, Alfonso Soriano in left field and Ichiro Suzuki in right field but looking to add production to their lineup, they went after Ellsbury.
Ellsbury, fresh off winning the World Series with Boston, led the majors with 52 stolen bases despite braking his right foot near the end of last season. He finished the 2013 season with a .298 batting average, nine home runs and 53 RBIs.
The deal was made official on Saturday night and he will join an impressive list of ex-Red Sox players to join the pinstripes when he is introduced this upcoming Friday at a press conference. Ellsbury will be joining Babe Ruth who was sold to the Yankees for $100,000, Wade Boggs who signed with the Yankees as a free agent in 1992 and helped them win the 1996 World Series, Roger Clemens who was traded to the Yankees in 1999, Johnny Damon who signed as a free agent a year after helping the Red Sox reverse the curse and Kevin Youkilis who joined the pinstripes last season as prominent ex-Red Sox players to join the Yankees.
Ellsbury is projected to slot in the center field spot as Gardner would likely be shifting to left field. After dealing with two freak injuries in recent years that limited him to a handful of games in 2010 and 2012 but has otherwise been very consistent throughout the years. A career .297 hitter with a .350 OBP, Ellsbury should provide the Yankees with speed on the basepaths and with the short porch in right field, he should see his power stats go up as they did in 2011 when he slugged 32 home runs.
Was it a move the Yankees needed to make? NO, but it is a move that should helped their lineup that was decimated with injuries and an aging roster.