Jacoby Ellsbury believes he has a ton of baseball left in him, and he wants his remaining playing days to be spent in New York.
The 34-year-old outfielder, who, in all likelihood will be appointed as a $68 million bench player this upcoming season, arrived to the Yankees’ spring training facility in Tampa on Sunday morning. He told reporters that his role with the club has yet to be determined.
“Every year you come in and compete,” Ellsbury said. “Never one year has the lineup been made already in my tenure in the big leagues. Everybody comes in and works hard. There’s not a lineup made up yet. That’s how I look at it.
“It’s the same thing I’m going to do. I’m going to get ready for the season. I’m going to prepare and get ready for the year. Nothing changes. As a competitor, yeah, you prepare in the offseason. You do all the stuff that you need to do, then you come in and get ready for the season. So nothing changes. I didn’t change my approach. Nothing changes. I’ll be ready to play.”
Although Ellsbury’s recent injury history and lack of production has lessened his value, his albatross contract (three-years, $68 million plus a club option for 2021) has rendered him unmovable. During the offseason, several reports stated that the Yankees were willinng to eat half of the money owed to Ellsbury in a potential trade, but on Sunday, Ellsbury said the club never approached him about waiving his full no-trade clause.
“I love playing here. I’ll leave it at that,” Ellsbury said.
Before the Yankees made a blockbuster deal with the Miami Marlins for superstar slugger Giancarlo Stanton in December, Ellsbury’s status in a crowded outfield group was still ambiguous. With Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner as everyday fixtures — as well as Aaron Hicks, who took over the center field job in May when Ellsbury was sidelined with a concussion — Ellsbury is simply a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fit. Even if injuries impact the outfield in some manner, the Yankees wouldn’t have to turn to Ellsbury, either. Another option could be touted 23-year-old Clint Frazier, who will most likely begin the season in Triple-A.
When asked if he would rather serve as a role player in New York or as a starting outfielder somewhere else, Ellsbury refrained from comment.