Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury Resolved Contract Grievance

Back in 2019, the Yankees filed a grievance against Jacoby Ellsbury in an attempt to withhold the remaining $26,142,857 still owed on the outfielder’s contract.  Not many details have surfaced about the situation until now, as The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reports that the two sides reached a settlement “at least a year ago” in order to avoid a hearing.

There was a monetary settlement involved, and though the total isn’t known, it appears as though some portion of Ellsbury’s remaining salary was reduced.  As Heyman notes, it was enough to keep the Yankees under the second tier of the luxury tax penalty limit in 2020, and exceeding that total would’ve meant that New York’s first pick in the 2021 draft would’ve fallen 10 slots lower (from 20th to 30th overall).  The luxury tax payments were suspended for the shortened 2020 season but not each team’s status as a multi-time payor, so the Yankees had to get under the tax threshold in 2021 to officially reset their CBT status.

The source of the grievance stemmed from the Yankees’ allegation that Ellsbury received outside medical treatment without the team’s permission, as Ellsbury was exploring various ways to get back on the field after injuries essentially ended his career.  In response, the MLB Players Association countered with a grievance of their own against the Yankees, though it can be assumed that that grievance was also quietly sidestepped when Ellsbury and the Yankees reached their settlement.

As it is, the settlement would appear to put a final cap on Ellsbury’s tenure in New York, which officially ended from a transactional standpoint when the Yankees released him in November 2019.  Following a huge 2013 season with the World Series champion Red Sox, Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153MM free agent to jump from Boston to the Bronx.

However, injuries plagued Ellsbury throughout his time in the pinstripes, and he hit only .264/.330/.386 over 2171 plate appearances and 520 games from 2014-17.  He didn’t play at all in 2018-19 due to a variety of injuries, most notably a hip surgery.  With the release, the Yankees ate the final year of Ellsbury’s contract as well the buyout of his club option for the 2021 season.

Ellsbury has never officially announced his retirement, and as of the 2019-20 offseason was still working out in an attempt to get back onto the field.  There hasn’t been any word on his future plans, and since Ellsbury is now 38 years old and hasn’t played since October 2017, it is probably safe to assume that his big league career is done after 11 seasons.

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