The Yankees are currently in Miami. They should fly out with a few things: some Cuban food, some nice cigars, and a new left-handed reliever. The Yankees should trade Jacoby Ellsbury for Wei-Yin Chen.
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Here are three reasons why the Yankees should trade Ellsbury for Chen:
1. Luxury tax implications. Wei-Yin Chen is owed almost the exact same amount of money as Jacoby Ellsbury over the next two seasons: $42 million. The completely misguided five-year, $80 million contract that the Marlins gave him is very backloaded. As a result, his cap hit is just $16 million. Jacoby Ellsbury is owed just over $21 million per year over the same time period, but with the $21 million cap hit. The Yankees could save some luxury tax money without increasing their actual payroll.
2. Roster space. The Yankees have no room for Jacoby Ellsbury on a healthy starting roster. Assuming Clint Frazier recovers, Ellsbury is at best the 6th best outfielder on the team, but can’t be optioned down to the minors. His skills make him a poor bench player. Chen could slide into a lefty relief role without interfering with roster construction much.
3. Chen should be an effective lefty situational reliever. Wei-Yin Chen’s 30s have not been kind to him, and he’s a true talent 5.00 ERA starting pitcher in the National League. While the Yankees are short on starters, they’re not that short on starters. However, Chen is still effective against left-handed batters, who hit .211/.286/.386 off him this season. The Yankees lack that guy at the moment. If you shorten Chen’s outings and protect him against tough righties, you might get a the lefty situational reliever that the Yankees have lacked since Justin Wilson left.
Why would the Marlins do the trade? Jacoby Ellsbury is a veteran presence and probably better than Chen in a vacuum. He played a season with Derek Jeter. If the Yankees have to throw-in a Low-A prospect, that’s okay.
Why would Jacoby Ellsbury waive his no-trade clause? I hear Miami is a nice city. Also, it’s either that or ride the bench for the rest of his career. I bet he could be persuaded. Do it, Cashman.