A center fielder helps the Boston Red Sox win the World Series, then joins the team’s archrival, the New York Yankees, as a free agent.
That scenario played out when Johnny Damon switched sides in the rivalry more than a year after Boston’s 2004 championship. It might be repeated on an accelerated schedule, as Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to seven-year deal with the Yankees, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday night.
According to CBSSports.com, the contract will be worth $153 million. The deal is not finalized pending a physical.
Ellsbury, 30, was a key cog in Boston’s title run this year. He led the American League with 52 stolen bases in the regular season, then batted .344 in the postseason.
Curtis Granderson was the Yankees’ nominal center fielder last season, but he played just 61 games in an injury-plagued year. Brett Gardner, who started 138 games in center, likely will move to left field with Ellsbury’s arrival.
Ellsbury hit .298 with a .355 on-base percentage, a .426 slugging percentage, nine homers and 53 RBIs in 134 games this year. His presence in the leadoff spot set the tone for an effective Boston offense.
After winning a World Series title with the Red Sox as a rookie in 2007, Ellsbury played seven years in Boston, though he missed significant time in 2010 and 2012 due to injuries.
The news about Ellsbury emerged on the same day the Yankees officially signed free agent catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract. The Yankees also are negotiating with second baseman Robinson Cano, the top free agent on the market, but the sides are said to be far apart.