UPDATE (Dec. 21 at 9:40 p.m. ET): Heyman is reporting now that the Yankees have indeed reached out to the Giants about Ellsbury, but that he is not at the top of their list for their vacant center field position.
The Giants do have an opening after dealing the aging Denard Span to Tampa Bay in a trade for third baseman Evan Longoria. Ellsbury would represent a downgrade statistically when looking at the 2017 season, but the Giants would be looking to catch lightning in a bottle.
The Yankees outfield could round into shape over the next few days, and may not include 34-year-old Jacoby Ellsbury. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Thursday that the veteran may be willing to waive his full no-trade clause to move to “a select few teams”.
In his piece, Heyman mentioned the San Francisco Giants specifically:
Jacoby Ellsbury was said early this winter not to want to waive his full no-trade clause, but word now is that he might consider waiving it for a select few teams, and the San Francisco Giants could be one of them.
Ellsbury could fit in as the Giants’ center fielder, whereas with the Yankees he seems destined to be the fourth outfielder, as Yankees people say they are going with Aaron Hicks in center field. Ellsbury lives in the Phoenix area, so the Giants’ spring home in Scottsdale would be a plus for him, too.
You can read the full article here. Ellsbury slashed .264/.348/.402 in 112 games in 2017, missing 29 games due to a concussion suffered in May. Prior to the concussion, he was hitting 30 points higher, and lost the starting job in center field to Aaron Hicks while on the disabled list.
Signed after a 2013 season where he hit .298/.355/.426 with nine home runs, 53 RBIs and 52 stolen bases with Boston, Ellsbury has largely failed to live up to his seven-year, $153 million contract. So far, his line with the Yankees stands at .264/.330/.386 with 39 home runs, 198 RBIs and 102 stolen bases (80.3% success rate).
The current Yankee depth chart has Ellsbury slated to be a very expensive fourth outfielder. Brian Cashman has already said Hicks will start the season in center field, Brett Gardner seems anchored in left field and the towering combination of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will patrol right field. There will not be many designated hitter opportunities available either, since Judge/Stanton will likely hold that spot while the other is in right field.
Ellsbury really wants to play out the rest of his contract in New York, where the earliest he can be a free agent is after the 2020 season. He would be 36 at that time, and would certainly be paid the $5 million buyout of his 2021 team option. The Yankees would have to eat a fairly hefty chunk of his salary in order to move him to another team. Plus, Ellsbury has to approve any trade.