Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters at the GM Meetings Tuesday that OF Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to be the fourth outfielder next season, per NY Daily News' Mike Mazzeo.
Ellsbury, who is due $68.4 million over the next three seasons, has a no-trade clause in his contract if the Yankees decided to shop him. Cashman said that he plans to meet with Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras, before leaving the GM Meetings on Wednesday.
The Yankees may want to get rid of his contract via trade in the future. But, for now, he will remain a projected asset in 2018.
"Jacoby's going to come in and compete," Cashman said. "His (2017) season kind of got derailed by the concussion...It certainly made it look different than what he's capable of. But we ended up with the setup of Judge in right, Hicks in center and Gardy in left (during the playoffs) for a reason: they were the best we had. And so I think we would anticipate going in (to 2018) that way again."
Here is what else Cashman said on Tuesday:
- Yankees and MLB's top prospect, Gleyber Torres, could earn a starting spot for Opening Day, per NJ.com's Brendan Kuty. The Yankees' staff thought Torres was ready to go on Opening Day last year, but he is now recovering from Tommy John Surgery on his non-throwing arm. They will evaluate him once he reports to spring training.
- Cashman didn't comment on whether or not CC Sabathia will return for another year. Both sides have shown, however, that they want to make a deal.
- Cashman has yet to reach out to all of his managerial candidates.
- OF Clint Frazier is off the table as Cashman called him a depth piece "with ceiling."
- 3B Chase Headley will have to "defend" his position at third during spring training.
Take Cashman's words on November 14 with a grain of salt. There will be a bevy of moving parts this offseason, so each of his comments today should be viewed merely as preliminary thoughts centered on what his current roster looks like.
Minimally, Cashman has now provided Boras with information that devalues his client. When they chat Wednesday, it would not be surprising for Cashman to walk out of the meeting with some ideas of locations Ellsbury will waive his no-trade clause if a deal can be worked out. With Frazier being mentioned as a "depth piece," if Ellsbury does stick around, that could hinder the youngster's ability to acquire significant major league experience without relying on an injury to someone else.
Regarding Torres, had he not gotten injured last summer, he may well have been called up in August, so mentioning that he will compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster is not necessarily surprising. With Headley having to "defend" his position, that's a sure sign that would be the first slot for Torres to slide into if his performance in spring training warrants it. Alternatively, the Yankees could try to trade Headley or Starlin Castro to make space for Torres without much of a competition ensuing.
As for Sabathia, the Yankees do not have to rush, but it would be wise to get an idea of the left-hander's contract desires so they can be weighed against the other options in front of Cashman. With four returning rotations arms and Japan's Shohei Otani a possibility, there is a chance that the Yankees end up with six extremely viable rotation arms when spring training commences. That is, of course, a nice problem to have.