What's next for Ellsbury as Yanks tenure ends?

November 21st, 2019

The era in the Bronx officially came to an end on Wednesday, as the Yankees released the high-priced -- and oft-injured -- outfielder with one year remaining on his hefty contract.

New York will pay Ellsbury more than $26 million to send him packing, as he's slated to earn $21.1 million in 2020 and has a $5 million buyout on a $21 million club option for '21.

Ellsbury hasn't played in a game since the 2017 postseason, when he appeared as a pinch-runner in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. He's missed the past two years with a variety of injuries including oblique, back and hip issues, the last of which required surgery in August 2018. He spent all of 2019 rehabbing, but never came close to playing after a foot injury prior to Spring Training hampered his rehab program.

The seven-year, $153 million deal he signed with the Yankees turned out to be a bust, but have we seen the last of Ellsbury in a big league uniform?

If Ellsbury has anything to say about it, the answer is no.

"He's finishing up his rehab [in Arizona] with a focus on Spring Training," said a source close to the outfielder. "I'm sure he will [try to play in 2020]."

In his four active seasons with the Yankees, Ellsbury hit .264/.330/.386 with 39 home runs, 198 RBIs and 102 stolen bases in 520 games. He played more than 112 games in a season only twice for the Yankees, who made the playoffs in 2015 and '17 only to watch Ellsbury go 0-for-9 in October.

Ellsbury will receive his full salary from the Yankees in 2020, so a team willing to take a chance on him can sign him to a Minor League contract with a minimum salary if he makes the Major League roster out of camp.

"It's a freebie for someone," one AL executive said.

Two other AL executives were skeptical that Ellsbury will even attempt to come back two-plus years after his last appearance, officially calling it quits at the age of 36 with career earnings of more than $170 million.

"I think he takes it to the house," a second AL exec said.