The Tuesday Discussion – Where Will They Go?
This week we asked our writers:
Where will Jacoby Ellsbury, Greg Bird, and Nestor Cortes end up signing?
(Note – After posing the article to the writers, Nestor Cortes was traded to the Seattle Mariners. I left the original answers in the post.)
Here are their answers:
Michael Saffer – I could see Ellsbury going to the Mets. They seem to gravitate toward players that lack competitive fire and grit. Greg Bird would fit in nicely on a team with low expectations like the Padres or Reds. Cortes Jr. would be a good fit on a team lacking a good 3 or 4 man in their starting rotation. There a quite a few of them.
Jacob Gaba – I think that Jacoby Ellsbury will end up retiring. Bird may get a minor league deal somewhere, but I find it unlikely that he’d crack the majors again barring an immense lack of depth wherever he signs. I could also see Bird going abroad to play in the Japan league or elsewhere. Nestor Cortes could help out some of the competitive teams with below-average bullpens like the Nationals as a long reliever.
Ethan Semendinger – Well, I got to this one a bit late and unfortunately already know that Nestor Cortes Jr. is headed to the Seattle Mariners as part of a deal for some International Bonus Pool money. I didn’t expect him to end up with a serious contender, but did expect him to end up on the West Coast, problem was that I was thinking the San Fransisco Giants would pick him up.
With Greg Bird, I don’t see many teams that are going to be gunning for his services so his market is probably about as low as you can get. Regardless, there is one team that has very unexceptional talent at first base and likes to be money-conscious: The Kansas City Royals. Book it now, Greg Bird will soon be royalty. If not, find him joining fellow ex-Yankees Tyler Austin in a foreign league. Let’s say the KBO for fun.
Finally, with Jacoby Ellsbury, I don’t believe he is going to make it past June with any team in the MLB. But, I can see one semi-contender doing a similar thing that the Yankees did with Troy Tulowitzski this past season with signing an extremely cheap veteran to suck the final baseball days out of them. Ellsbury will end up in Arizona with the Diamondbacks. Their CF Adam Jones is a question-mark with if he’ll go back and how he’ll perform after a down-2019 campaign and I could see them going after Ellsbury as a lottery safety net.
Paul Semendinger – I’ll try to make this fun…but I honestly think these things will happen, if not immediately, eventually. Jacoby Ellsbury will one day, again, be a Red Sox. Greg Bird will, absolutely, be a New York Met one day. And Nestor Cortes…he’ll once again pitch for the… New York Yankees.
Ed Botti – I was surprised by some of the 40 man roster moves the Yankees made this week, especially keeping pitchers Chance Adams, Luis Cessa and Stephen Tarpley on it. Adams would have been my first move. Tarpley and Cessa are not as clear cut, but I believe easily replaceable.
Maybe these guys are part of a planned trade?
On the position player side of the team, I was surprised that Thairo Estrada made the cut. Don’t get me wrong, I liked what he showed last year; a good looking player, but really just insurance at second base, shortstop, and even third base. They have depth in the organization for infielders, such as Tyler Wade and Miguel Andújar (assuming Gio Urshela remains the starter). Depth in the minors is probably the reason he was kept, as there are not any infielders ready at this point.
I think the biggest surprise to me was Brooks Kriske. I look forward to seeing why they valued him so high.
The 40 man roster is flexible, and if the Yankees want to get in on the free agent market, moves will have to be made. Really all this is about right now, is protecting certain players from the Rule 5 draft on December 12th.
As far as who they let go, here are my thoughts and predictions.
Jacoby Ellsbury- This is the deal that never should have been made. There was no way he was worth that contract length or value (just like another Yankee outfielder currently on the team). He was the recipient of being in the right place at the right time (Robinson Cano going to Seattle), and cashed in on it. Good for him and Scott Boras, not so much for the Yankees.
With the Yankees on the hook for $21 million in 2020 and the $5 Million buyout for 2021(more on that to come), Ellsbury becomes a very affordable risk for any team, just Like Troy Tulowitzki was a year ago for the Yankees.
The problem for Ellsbury is that he hasn’t played since he pinch ran for Chase Headley in Game 4 of the 2017 ALCS. So who knows what he has left in the tank at 36.
Potential landing spot—Cleveland Indians and a reunion with Tito Francona.
Greg Bird- This one hurts and I am still scratching my head on it, as I am on the record of saying/writing that I would have given him 2020 to prove his health. That is the only issue, and I know, it’s a big issue. A 2019 version of Nick Johnson.
I look at the 7th inning home run off Andrew Miller in the game 3 of the 2017 ALCS as equity he built up.
A solid defender with a classic left handed swing, and I am not sold on Luke Voit, yet.
Does this signify to us that Didi Gregorius is gone, and that DJ LeMahieu is going to play first every day, moving Gleyber Torres to Short Stop?
I hope not. Didi fits in perfectly and has earned a new contract.
Regardless, Bird is now an ex Yankee. There will be no shortage of interested teams for his services in 2020, and he is only entering his age 27 season.
If I were the Tampa Bay Rays I’d have him in camp to battle Ji-Man Choi for the starting first base position, or he would fit in nicely with the Brewers as a replacement for Travis Shaw who hit .157 last year.
Nestor Cortes, Jr – Nestor ate up some very valuable innings last year, and I loved his multiple angles and timing changes in his delivery, and that he is left handed and entering his age 25 season. He averaged just over a strike out an inning and had pretty good command.
In today’s game with starters not going too deep, he has value, and his repertoire is so different, that he fits in nicely in middle innings between all of the hard throwers in the league.
I think the crosstown Mets would be a great spot for him, and great addition for them.
The Yankees really took a risk by letting Bird and Cortez, Jr. simply walk away, in favor of protecting other players, some of whom have never played a MLB game. Let’s hope they are right, but I have a feeling we have not seen the last Bird home run at Yankee Stadium.