Rumors: Yankees interested in Darvish but need to trade Ellsbury first

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Yankees are interested in free agent righty Yu Darvish, but Rosenthal added that the Yankees would need to get creative to do it — in other words — trade Jacoby Ellsbury.

The problem is that the Yankees are trying to keep their payroll under $197 million for the season to avoid paying the luxury tax and reset their penalty from 50 percent to 20 percent if they exceed it in the future.

Joel Sherman of the NY Post estimates their payroll at approximately $182 million, but that doesn’t include the contracts of players that they will inevitably add midseason. So they do have some flexibility still, to say trade for a pitcher on a team-friendly contract like Gerrit Cole, but if they could off load even some of the $68.5 million they owe to Ellsbury, they could suddenly jump into the free agent market.

The Yankees could probably offload at least some of Ellsbury’s contract if they were motivated to do so, it just depends on how much of that $68.5 million they wanted to eat. Rumors are they were willing to swallow about half, but teams are obviously still hesitant. There is also the factor of his no trade clause and the fact that he’s stated multiple times that he does not want to be traded.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.
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19 Responses to Rumors: Yankees interested in Darvish but need to trade Ellsbury first

  1. Balt Yank says:

    I wonder if they can put him in Triple A and see if he warms to being traded. I never understood how they works with contracted players because often these albratroses are simply released. I would let him compete in Spring Training with Hicks as the Fifth Outfielder and if he wins it, trade Hicks for young pitching. Hicks sucks and we have Frazier, McKinney, and Cave at Triple A for that spot.

    • Veterans can't be sent to the minors without their permission.

      Also — if Hicks sucks then the "young pitching" that the Yankees are going to get for him is going to suck too. He also hit .266/.372/.475 last year with strong defense at all three outfield positions. Which is why the Yankees won't be trading the 28-year-old switch hitter starting center fielder. Only 4 center fielders in baseball had better numbers than that in 2017.

      • Steve S. says:

        Rob, if you look at Hicks' numbers closely you will see that in roughly his last 200 at bats he reverted back to his old self. Sure he was injured twice, but had plenty of opportunities and only hit around .220 after his hot start in April and May. Yes, he's a plus defender. Yes he gets on base, but his offensive numbers are misleading. That being said, on a team that looks to be an offense machine next season, if his offense is sub par it might not matter much.

        • Jerry says:

          You are correct Steve, the Yankees offense should be able to carry not just Hicks, but also if it's really needed, our new 2nd baseman Torres and perhaps Andujar. I believe they will more than carry themselves. Hicks potentially will be our weakest link….. Right now Hicks has never had a full season of play. Mainly because he hasn't played very well or has been injured. You can't really compare Hicks to full time players because the numbers are skewered. It's like winning a batting title with only 300 at bats, you need 502 at bats….. But I will root for Hicks to be great as I would any Yankee.

  2. Balt Yank says:

    that works (typo). When I say trade Hicks for pitching, maybe he could fetch 1 good double A prospect, 1 good single a.

    • The Yankees aren't the type of team to give up MLB talent for minor leaguers. The rare occasions that happens is with players like Brian McCann or Jacoby Ellsbury — players who don't fit on the team and are making too much money. Hicks is the starting center fielder signed on a reasonable contract.

  3. Jerry says:

    I think the Yankees know they have to trade Ellsbury, I'm sure they have tried. What's he making 22 million, if they had to eat 17 million of that they would do it. There's no market apparently. The Yankees could give Darvish a smaller amount for the first year of a contract to remain under the threshold. I wouldn't mind having him.

    • For luxury tax purposes, annual average salary is used. So even if the Yankees backloaded Darvish's contract it wouldnt help them at all.

      • Jerry says:

        Thanks for that info, I thought there may have been some type of loophole. No

        • The only real loophole would be to give him extra years to lower the AAV — like give him 5 years and $100 million (AAV of $20) instead of something like 3 years and $90 million (AAV of $30). This is just hypothetical numbers, not necessarily talking about Darvish. I'm not sure that would work with Darvish since he's 31. That's old enough where he probably would rather take the 3 years and $90 million (again, just a for instance) and try to get another contract after that.

  4. Terry says:

    Let’s see. We could get rid of Ellsbury’s contract and add a guy we know can get ML outs and again we could get rid of Ellsbury’s contract! Get this done please!! Darvish would not have been my first choice but the guy is probably about 15-20 games over .500 with about a 3.40-3.50 era. I’d take him. Plus there are rumors out there that Ells would waive his NTC for a handful of teams. Looking good. If you sign a pitcher, you keep all prospects for a later deal

  5. James Dogg says:

    Darvish would be a mistake, for more than 2 years he would be a big mistake. (expensive, turning 31, did not do well under the big time bright lights of WS, NY is always like that) Cole would be a 3/4 on yankee staff to day and not likely to be more once Adams and Sheffield advance, not worth the prospects being sought- Clint Fraizer, while he may be blocked from NYY outfield, is worth more than a 3/4 starter .
    Absent a top shelf starter in return the yanks should hold tight on the top prospects.
    As for Ellsbury, if the Redsox can have a $30 mil middle reliever, I guess we can have a $21 mil fourth/ fifth outfielder. But his lack of production and drop off of speed, I see him being traded for little and NY eating some salary or out right release before 7/31/18.

  6. tom says:

    Darvish has been an average SP and will be 31 years old. No reason to give him Ellsbury's AAV. 13-15m may be standard for an average SP. No more than that.

    • Yu Darvish has had a career 126 ERA+ and last season he was good for a 118 ERA+. If you are not familiar with the stat, 100 is league average, 126 is 26 percent better than league average and 118 is 18 percent better. Darvish has never had a season of less than a 100 ERA+.

  7. Balt Yank says:

    Everybody knows the Yankees should eat money and trade Ellsbury, including even the Yankees. Yet, he has a "no trade" clause. Aye, there's the rub. That is why Hicks should be traded for good prospects, as Rob's analysis would indicate. Ellsbury is a good fourth outfielder / pitcher hitter, an expense one, but good for that role, as is Hicks.

    • Dealing Hicks would certainly get the Yankees better prospects, but the Yankees aren't looking for prospects at this point. They're in win-now mode and want to add to the rotation. It doesn't seem impossible for them to build a deal for a starter around Hicks, but teams like the Pirates would probably rather have 6 years of Clint Frazier than two of Hicks, same with the Tigers and Michael Fulmer. Hicks is also much better than Ellsbury at this point in his career so dealing Hicks rather than Ellsbury is less optimal in that respect.

      It seems to me their best options are to trade Clint Frazier for a starter or to trade half of Jacoby Ellsbury's contract and then sign a pitcher. Trading Hicks or Brett Gardner are other options. They might find it easier to move Gardner as they might be able to get somebody to take his entire contract and they could use that on Darvish.

  8. Les Schraeder says:

    The Yankees can accomplish this by simply moving Gardner or Robertson and keeping Ellsbury until next year which will make it easier to move him. There is not a great deal of difference in production between Ellsbury and Gardner other than slugging.

  9. gary b says:

    Darvish is garbage and will continue to get lit up like a 4th of July fireworks show. But seeing that the Yankees have retained brain dead Rothschild don't be surprised if Yankee pitching underperforms (Rothschild is a joke) Go Yankees.

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