If Jacoby Ellsbury can get seven years and $153 million, you can’t blame Robinson Cano for thinking he is worth at least 200. As a Yankee fan, I am trying to talk myself into the Ellsbury signing, but I can’t help but think that they paid a shit ton of money for a 30-year-old oft-injured outfielder who hit 9 home runs last year.
Ellsbury is certainly a nice player and taking his production away from the rival Red Sox helps narrow the talent gap with the reigning World Series champions. That said, paying this type of money to a player with Ellsbury’s injury history is a major risk. If this contract precludes the Yankees from resigning Cano, it is a potentially franchise altering miscalculation.
If you believe well sourced CBS Sports reporter John Heyman, “the Yankees don’t want to go much beyond $170 million over seven years” for Cano. It would be very difficult to argue that Cano is only $17 million more valuable than Ellsbury over the life of a seven year deal.
All it takes is a couple of mouse clicks to compare their career statistics and see thatRobinson Cano is an appreciably better player Jacoby Ellsbury. Cano has significantly better numbers in terms of home runs, batting average, RBIs, slugging percentage, and OPS. Cano has five Silver Slugger awards compared to Ellsbury’s one. Cano’s finished top ten in the MVP ballot the last four seasons, while Ellsbury has only finished in the top ten once in his career.
The most pronounced advantage Cano has over Ellsbury is durability. Over the last six years Robinson Cano has averaged an astounding 160 games played per season. Over that same time period Jacoby Ellsbury has only averaged 113.7 games. I think it’s pretty foolish of the Yankees to bet $153 million that Ellsbury will have better luck staying healthy from age 30 through 37 than he did from ages 24 through 30.
The truth is that Jacoby Ellsbury has had only one great year. It is a testament to the negotiating prowess of Scott Boras that he is now the third highest paid outfielder in baseball history. Cano famously dumped Boras as his agent in favor of Jay Z. One has to wonder if Robbie is now regretting that decision.
Perhaps Hal Steinbrenner has been inhabited by the spirit of his famously reactive father. The Boss would have been furious following a season in which the Yankees missed the playoffs and Boston won the World Series. It would have totally been his move to shower Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury with millions of dollars. Perhaps there is still a $200 million Christmas present from the Yankees waiting under the tree for Cano. If that is how this all plays out, I’m fine with it. They can raise the already ridiculous price of my beer at the Stadium from 11 to 12 dollars and I won’t complain. But if the Yankees chose to invest in Jacoby Ellsbury over Robinson Cano, it will be a sad day in the Bronx.