Over the weekend the Cubs expressed interest in signing outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, which would only be fitting with the rest of the offseason signings
The Cubs Convention concluded over the weekend and fans got a little bit of everything. From Tom Ricketts being booed over the Marquee Network, to Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein shedding more uncertainty on the rest of this offseason, to David Ross reminding everyone how special this group is, it was an eventful time. One of the rumors that came to be over the weekend is that of long-time Red Sox and Yankee, Jacoby Ellsbury.
Ellsbury, at 36 years old, has not played since the 2017 season due to injuries. In 2013, he signed a monstrous seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees and it’s safe to say it hasn’t paid off.
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Nonetheless, Ellsbury has great career numbers, sporting a .284 batting average, .342 on-base percentage and an OPS of .760. He also has an All-Star appearance, two World Series, a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger to his name.
While he may not be what he used to be, Ellsbury has impressive accolades and is an interesting candidate for this team, as he checks a lot of boxes. He would come in at the league minimum, fill a need in center field and would be a huge candidate for the lead-off spot.
With the Cubs looking to stay under the luxury tax, Ellsbury makes a ton of sense for a center field position that needs an upgrade, while it not being the team’s top priority. The upside is still there with Albert Almora and Ian Happ, but bringing in a veteran presence could not only be a solid backup plan but could help add to the competition if the two disappoint out in center field.
It’s also worth noting that Ellsbury was with the Red Sox at the same time as Epstein, hence where the interest comes from.
With more important needs at second base, in the bullpen and starting rotation, Ellsbury becomes a cost-effective option that is low-risk, high-reward. We’ve become used to these signings where Epstein “takes a chance” on a player. At this point, what’s the worst that could happen? He doesn’t pan out like Daniel Descalso, Tony Barnette, Xavier Cedeno, etc.? Since there’s no expectation, why not give it a shot?
I believe if Ellsbury comes in, his biggest impact would be at the leadoff spot. Boasting a career on-base-percentage of .342, he could give a huge boost to a spot in the lineup the Cubs have been searching to fill since the departure of Dexter Fowler. Anthony Rizzo has been a front-runner to lead off this year, but putting him there takes away his bat when there are big RBI opportunities.
With the pipe dream of Nick Castellanos floating around along with an actual hole at second base, Ellsbury provides a low-key addition that could make room for something bigger. It would be another outside-the-box move by this front office and by no means exciting, but would be very intriguing.