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Jacoby Ellsbury is a New York Yankee

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The Yankees inked the star outfielder to a 7-year, $153 million contract on Tuesday night.

Jacoby Ellsbury is a New York Yankee

When I found out the New York Yankees had signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a $153 million contract over seven season, I hung my head for a few seconds and sighed. It wasn't that I was particularly upset at acquiring Ellsbury, who is a terrific player when healthy.  It was the length and value of the contract that I was dwelling on.

Ellsbury has proved that he can by one of the more productive and dynamic players in baseball when he's on the field. Ellsbury led the American League in steals three times since the 2008 season. He's a solid hitter at the top of the lineup who should see improved power numbers with the short porch in Yankee Stadium. He is an elite defender out in center field. He impacts the game in a lot of different ways, and he'll be able to bring these things to a Yankees outfield that was in shambles most of the 2013 season.

The big if is Ellsbury's health. He's played 140+ games just three times in his career. Last year he missed nearly 30 games, and in the last four years he has turned in seasons of 18 and 74 games. Now Ellsbury is 30 years old and will be 31 in September, 2014. When the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford to that mammoth seven-year, $142 million contract before the 2011 season, he was 29 going on 30. Unlike Ellsbury, Crawford had no clear real prior history of injury and had produced at a much higher and more consistent level than Ellsbury has. Outside of what should have been an MVP season, Ellsbury has shown a lot of flashes of brilliance but hasn't been able to string together two seasons like that since 2008-2009.

But let's say that Ellsbury is able to stay healthy. The Yankees will be getting a fine player, one of the better outfielders in the game, but then they will still have to pay him over $20 million when he is 37 and 38 years old. I highly doubt Ellsbury is going to be putting up seasons like he did last year seven years from now. Once again, the Yankees will have a highly overpaid veteran on their roster that will be virtually impossible to unload. 

This is the worst case scenario, but it's one the team is stuck in right now. Mark Teixeira is going to be 34 in April and has been dealing with a rash of injuries in addition to a plummeting slash line. He's owed $22.5 million over the next three years. Potential suspension aside, Alex Rodriguez, 38, is quickly declining and is owed over $20 million each of the next four seasons (potentially more if he reaches home run milestones). CC Sabathia's 2013 might have been an anomaly. If not, he's another high-priced player currently in decline. 

Ellsbury will help infuse the roster with youth for now, and the team still will likely make several more moves before all is said and done (Robinson Cano still needs to be re-signed). The Yankees also took away one of their rival's best players. But while this improves the Yankees in the short term, it's yet another move that shows how shortsighted the team can be when it comes to lengthy, expensive contracts.

As excited as I should be about having Ellsbury in pinstripes, I just can't seem to remain positive about the signing.

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