We’ve heard this story before: according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the San Francisco Giants have been discussing Jacoby Ellsbury as a possible outfield solution in the Bay Area.
“Start with this: Any trade of Jacoby Ellsbury would be incredibly difficult. He’s 35 years old and hasn’t played in a major league game in 476 days. He’s owed about $48 million for the next two years, he has a full no-trade clause and — here’s the capper — if the season started today, Ellsbury wouldn’t be cleared to play, because he’s still going through treatment.”Buster Olney, ESPN+
The Giants could attempt to take on Ellsbury and his $48 million in a bad contract swap with the Yankees, where Olney speculates they’d take on the deal of Brandon Belt, Johnny Cueto, Evan Longoria or Jeff Samardzija. The two teams would either exchange cash or prospects to make things even out.
Cueto is owed $70.5 million through 2022, with $21,833,333 annually through 2021 and a $5 million buyout of his 2022 club option. Samardzija has the same guaranteed years as Ellsbury, making $39.6 million between now and the end of the 2020 season. Belt is owed $51.6 million through the end of 2021. Longoria is due $68.2 million through 2022 with a 2023 team option that carries a $5 million buyout.
Both Cueto and Samardzija are coming off injuries, as the former underwent Tommy John surgery Aug. 1 and the latter had three separate disabled list stints with a pectoral strain, right shoulder tightness and right shoulder inflammation.
The issue that complicates matters is Ellsbury’s no-trade clause. Also, the Yankees might be more inclined to trade Ellsbury alongside out-of-options players with upside such as Tommy Kahnle in order to maximize their salary relief.
This isn’t the first time that the Giants have been a speculated landing spot for the oft-injured 35-year-old. Jon Heyman, then of FanRag Sports, indicated that Ellsbury “might consider waiving [his no-trade clause] for a select few teams, and the San Francisco Giants could be one of them.”
“The phone call was made, however, for the two teams to discuss — and probably dismiss — any chance of the two sides matching up. Even if they did, Ellsbury could just say no.”Buster Olney, ESPN+
Would San Francisco essentially buy Kahnle (or another pitcher) and his team control by taking on a chunk of Ellsbury’s deal? Brian Cashman got the San Diego Padres to take on the entirety of Chase Headley‘s $13 million guarantee for 2018 by attaching pitcher Bryan Mitchell.
The other question to ask with this rumor is whether it would free up enough money and/or roster spots for a pursuit of Bryce Harper. Heyman reported as many as eight teams are now checking in on the 26-year-old star, and he mentioned “at least a couple/few of them are likely thinking short-term”.
That would fit the Yankees spending profile from this offseason. It’s worth noting that Brian Cashman never said the Yankees couldn’t afford Harper, but that there would be no space to play him. It’s definitely something worth keeping an eye on.