Tuesday afternoon, New York Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman told media members that the team plans on having Aaron Hicks as the team’s starting center fielder in 2018. Hicks slashed .266/.372/.475 with an OPS of .847 in 361 plate appearances across 88 games.
What does that mean? Jacoby Ellsbury, who is owed $21 million next season, will spend most of his time on the bench for the Yankees — if he’s on their roster come April. The 34-year-old outfielder proceeded to lose his starting job three times last season: first to Aaron Hicks, next to Clint Frazier and lastly to Chase Headley in the postseason.
In order for Ellsbury to be moved this winter, Cashman will have to ask Ellsbury and his agent, the highly-acclaimed Scott Boras, to waive his no-trade clause. However, as of earlier on Tuesday, the sides had not spoken.
With outfield depth options in the minor leagues that are way more cost-efficient — Billy McKinney and Jake Cave — there’s no reason why the Yankees would need to have Ellsbury on the roster come spring. With that being said, the writing is on the wall for him: he needs to be traded before the start of spring training.
The Yankees would likely need to include some sort of prospect package, along with Ellsbury, to dump him and his salary on another team, but is it worth it? The answer is yes, but it’s complicated.
If they want to not take on most of the contract, they’d have to include a prospect or two, but the Yankees value their prospects. If they take on a good enough portion of the contract, they won’t have to include a prospect.
Either way, it would be wise for the Yankees to move Ellsbury, even if he has to have a prospect attached to him.