Just trade him.
That seems to be the easy suggestion for many fans when it comes to Jacoby Ellsbury's future with the New York Yankees. The reality of course, is that trading Ellsbury will not be a simple transaction for a number of reasons.
The largest deterrent, Ellsbury's contract, is the exact reason the Yankees may try to move the center fielder. He is set to make over $21 million in each of the next three seasons, and his contract includes a $5 million buyout for a 2021 option. The Yankees would most certainly have to pay down a large portion of the contract in order to make the deal enticing to the other club.
Ellsbury has made it known that he does not want to leave New York. This is not a small condition since he holds a full no-trade clause, which also puts a large wrinkle in the Yankees chance to move him. They would have to convince Ellsbury it is in his best interest as a player to look elsewhere, and they may have set the stage some when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman declared Aaron Hicks was the club's starting center fielder for 2018.
Perceived future value
In order for any club to determine if they would be interested in Ellsbury, they would have to project his performance value going forward. Of course, this would tie into the amount of salary the Yankees would be willing to pay. Ellsbury turned in a .264/.348/.402 slash line with 31 extra-base hits in 409 plate appearances and stole 22 bases in 2017. He is far from an elite defender. In terms of FanGraphs' WAR, Ellsbury compiled a 1.6 mark in 2017.
Using a loose $8 million as the performance value of one WAR, Ellsbury was worth $12.8 million in 2017. In that sense, any team interested would have to ask themselves if Ellsbury can meet or surpass that value in each of the next three seasons, and hope the Yankees are willing to pay the difference.
Injuries and age
Ellsbury has dealt with his fair share of injuries in his career. Over the last six seasons, he has averaged just 121 games. This is not a small sample and a certain factor in another club's interest in his services. Ellsbury will be playing in his age-34 season, which typically begins the production downfall for many players, let alone those who have already endured a rough go of staying on the field in addition to dwindling performance. Minimal days on the field plus a decrease in performance leads back to the value mentioned above, which will surely decline as time marches on.
Requires daily reps to succeed
Ellsbury looks at himself as a full-time player. It can be argued that his performance is not worthy of everyday at-bats, but it is also true that he performs better when he is receiving everyday reps. Any club willing to take Ellsbury on will have to consider this element as well. While, it may be wise for his manager to rest him on occasion, making him the short end of a four-outfielder rotation could end up being detrimental to the player's psyche, and thus, his production.
After reviewing the above factors, the Yankees' ability to trade Ellsbury doesn't seem as simple as many think. There are difficult circumstances for three parties to consider: the Yankees, Ellsbury, and any pursuing team. Suggesting it will be easy to satisfy the desires of all three factions in one deal is clearly unrealistic.
A deal could get done, but we'd have to expect that someone is going to get the raw end of it (actually, the Yanks already have). At least for Ellsbury, he gets paid either way.