When I heard the Yankees bought out Jacoby Ellsbury, I immediately thought of that memorable line from the movie, “Back to School.” Thornton Melon was finally free of his gold digger wife, Vanessa. Before he takes a dive into the swimming pool, he says to Lou, his bodyguard, “I feel like I just got paroled.”
Talk about being handcuffed by an albatross of a contract. Ellsbury’s 7-year, $153 million dollar deal goes down as one of the Yankees’ worst ever free agent signings. Following the 2013 season, the Yankees did not want to meet Robinson Cano’s original demand of a ten year deal. Cano ended up signing a ten year, $240 million dollar deal with Seattle but according to reliable sources, the former Yankee would’ve been willing to accept an eight year contract to remain in NY.
It appears the Ellsbury signing was in response to losing Cano but if the Yankees did not want to pay Cano, why pay a guy who had a history of being injury prone, while they had a player with the same skill set on their roster in Brett Gardner.
Now the Yanks are trying to save face by claiming a violation of the contract that permits them to hold back on paying the final $26 million that is owed to Ellsbury. The Yankees claim Ellsbury had undergone medical treatment that was not approved by the club, thus the claim of a violation. The MLBPA is backing Ellsbury and with the relationship between the players and the owners already strained, it won’t help the developing labor issue.
Yanks also released Greg Bird. The oft injured first-baseman never really panned out despite his “sweet left handed swing.” The swing may have been sweet looking but it wasn’t quick. Bird displayed very little bat speed and opposing pitchers caught on to that really fast.
The 2020 Hall of Fame ballot was released earlier this week. Of the 18 newcomers, only one deserves to be elected and that’s Derek Jeter.
I cannot believe there are some out there who are making a case for Bobby Abreu. MLB Network cited Abreu’s career WAR as making him the 13th best right fielder in baseball history. Come on now. I can name at least 20 if not more right fielders who were better than Abreu. Nice player, not a Hall of Famer. Neither is Cliff Lee, Paul Konerko, Jason Giambi, Josh Beckett and Raul Ibanez and certainly not, Heath Bell, Chone Figgins, J.J Putz, Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano, Jose Valverde, Adam Dunn, Rafael Furcal, Carlos Pena, Brad Penny, and Eric Chavez. Again, all nice players, not Hall of Famers.
By the way, and I said this last year when Mariano Rivera’s unanimous selection was announced. Jeter will not be a unanimous selection.
The Mets were not in on free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal, (Why not?) who signed with the White Sox, and there are reports that they have some interest in free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos. The Mets pursued Grandal last off season but not this time around.
In last week’s Karpin’s Korner, I suggested the Mets take a look at Austin Romine, who would be a better get than Chirinos. Romine is a solid, defensive catcher who has improved as a hitter. His numbers with throwing out potential base stealers is not that great but he excels in every other skill behind the plate, including blocking balls and making pitchers feel comfortable.
As I’ve stated many times before, the Mets are going to have to be creative this off season if they hope to accomplish their goals of satisfying their needs in the bullpen (Chasen Shreve is not the answer) and CF.
Meanwhile, the Phillies and White Sox are reportedly interested in free agent pitcher Zack Wheeler.
The Phillies are also showing interest in free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius. If they sign the former Yankee, the plan is to move Jean Segura to another position (3B or 2B) or use him in a trade to bring back an arm or two.
Karpin’s Korner appears every Friday afternoon on nysportsday.com