Jacoby Ellsbury is a member of the New York Yankees now after signing a seven-year deal Tuesday night worth $153 million. An option for an eighth year is in the contract that could push the value to $169 million.
For Boston Red Sox fans of a certain age, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Ellsbury, along with Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon, formed the core of Red Sox farmhands that blossomed in the latter stages of the last decade. Only Pedroia and Lester now remain with the team.
During Ellsbury’s tenure, he set the franchise-record for stolen bases in a season with 70 in 2009 and nearly won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 2011 (if the team had not collapsed…).
On the other hand, injuries cost Ellsbury all but 18 games in 2010 and half a season in 2012. Just four times in his six full seasons did he play in more than 100 games.
The Red Sox offered him extensions a number of times, but Ellsbury politely declined. After hiring Scott Boras as his agent before he even started his official rookie season, you knew he was looking forward to this—his first free agent pay day.
In the endless speculation on the Internet on where free agents would sign, hardly anywhere did you see Ellsbury staying in Boston. The Red Sox would have probably given him a five-year contract for $100 million, had negotiations been serious, but it was clear from the outset that Ellsbury wanted at least six years and more than $20 million per season.
There was never a chance he was coming back, a decision he probably made years ago.
Ellsbury is not a bad person. If anything, he never let us get to know him during his years here. He was not flashy like David Ortiz, gritty like Pedroia or loveable like Shane Victorino, he went out, did his business and went home.
The deep pockets of the Texas Rangers or his hometown Seattle Mariners thought to be his preferred landing areas. The first time he returned to Fenway, Ellsbury would have been showered with a thankful standing ovation. Maybe, just maybe in that moment, he would have realized how much he was liked and appreciated here.
Ellsbury never made a secret that he would go to the highest bidder and the Yankees pounced. The Steinbrenner kids, still stinging from not only missing the playoffs but also watching Boston win everything, flung open the bank vaults under Yankee Stadium and offered money to anyone that would take it. Brian McCann was first to take the cash and Ellsbury joined him.
Even with the pinstripes, Ellsbury deserves that standing ovation upon his return to Fenway.
If the Sox offered the deal Ellsbury signed with New York, the Fenway Faithful would have been beside itself in anger. Like a teenager with daddy’s credit card, the Yankees are spending gobs of cash now and hope to forget they will still be paying the same gobs of money to declining players later.
Jacoby Ellsbury is going to make an average of $22 million a year each year through 2020. To our rivals down south, good luck.
To Ellsbury, we say good-bye and thank you.
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