If he can stay healthy, Ellsbury might just help the Yankees celebrate postseason victories.
Curtis Granderson's stay with the Yankees came to an end after 2013 and he went on to greener pastures across town with the Mets.
"Grandy" manned center field for the better part of four seasons for the Bombers and averaged 29 home runs and 77 RBI during his stay. In 2013 Granderson only saw action in 61 games for the team, forcing Brett Gardner to shift from left to center for most of the year.
Granderson's departure meant the team was left with Gardner and a cast of aging stars that included 38-year-old Alfonso Soriano, 40-year-old Ichiro Suzuki and 35-year-old Vernon Wells to occupy the outfield in the Bronx.
While Soriano was the most productive of the three "elders," his skills are better suited for a DH spot in the order. Both Suzuki and Wells have shown that their best days are in the rear-view mirror.
In an effort to bolster the outfield and ensure that Gardner would be able to play his natural left field spot, the Yankees signed Boston Red Sox free agent Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract.
Jacoby Ellsbury is 30 years old, making him the youngest of the starting outfielders (yes, he's younger than Gardner by a month).
Like Gardner, Ellsbury is a threat on the basepaths. Three times he has led the league in stolen bases, including last season with 52 swipes. More often than not his speed leads to runs, and he has scored 90 or more runs in four of the last six years.
In addition to his speed, Ellsbury can flat-out hit. He holds a career .297 batting average and in 2013 hit .304 with runners in scoring position (RISP)—a category the Yankees have struggled with in recent years.
In the postseason Ellsbury has proven himself at the plate, hitting .301 over 38 playoff and World Series games.
As a fielder, the center fielder has shown great range, ranking 10th in MLB in range factor. Last season he had just three errors in 353 chances, posting a .992 fielding percentage.
For the Yankees, the biggest concern with Ellsbury is his health. Only twice in his seven-year career has he reached 150 games, the last being in 2011 when he hit .321 with 32 home runs and 105 RBI. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wrote of the center fielder and injury proneness. It's an interesting article that chronicles Ellsbury's injuries and their causes.
The point being that it seems none of his setbacks would be categorized as "chronic" and appear to be the result of "freak," random events. Still, his inability to remain on the field for a full season has hindered production and as he is signed for most of his 30s, it has to be a concern for the Yankees.
Health issues aside, Ellsbury's flaws are minimal. His arm strength is below average, and he isn't going to hit many round-trippers (he's hit more than 10 just once in his career).
If Ellsbury can remain healthy, he'll become a valuable cog in the Yankee machine. His range, speed on the bases, ability to hit in clutch situations and hustle will endear him to fans. His addition will inject energy to a group that was teetering on irrelevance.