Analysis: Same old Yankees open deep pocketbook for Ellsbury

Wed Dec 4, 2013 4:26pm EST
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Frustrated by watching the playoffs from the sidelines and bruised by a drop in attendance and TV ratings, the New York Yankees responded in familiar fashion - by fighting back with their bank account.

As word spread that the Bronx Bombers agreed to a seven-year, $153 million deal with fleet-footed, free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, formerly of Boston, it became clear the Yankees meant business in pursuit of the World Series champion, arch-rival Red Sox.

The deal for Ellsbury, expected to come to New York for a physical examination before signing the pact, followed on the heels of a five-year, $85 million free agent deal for power-hitting catcher Brian McCann, formerly of the Atlanta Braves.

Other big moves should follow in the wake of a third-place AL East finish that marked just the second time they missed the postseason in 19 years and led to a home attendance drop of 7 percent and a 31 percent plunge in YES Network viewership.

The Yankees have their own free agents in power-hitting second baseman Robinson Cano, who is campaigning for a $200 million deal, and Japanese starter Hiroki Kuroda.

They are also expected to be serious suitors for 25-year-old Masahiro Tanaka, who could spark a major league bidding war for the right-hander who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season for the Tohoku Rakuton Golden Eagles of the Japan Pacific League.

The $189 million payroll threshold set for Major League Baseball's punitive luxury tax, which the Yankees have said would be a target, is looking like a distant worry in their determined drive to return to prominence.

The final Yankee payroll number will be impacted by the Alex Rodriguez doping decision, which is awaiting an arbitration ruling. The 211-game suspension that was initially handed down would eliminate at least $25 million from their 2014 ledger.   Continued...

Oct 30, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury reacts after scoring a run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning during game six of the MLB baseball World Series at Fenway Park. Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports