Ellsbury to New York, Part Two: It's '08 redux

Ellsbury to New York, Part Two: It's '08 redux
December 4, 2013, 9:00 am
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The second of five thoughts, after a most busy day, about the fallout from Jacoby Ellsbury leaving the Red Sox to sign a seven-year, $153 million deal with the New York Yankees.

Thought Two: This offseason is playing out a lot like the winter following the 2008 season.

Then, like now, the Yankees were coming off a year in which they were shut out of the playoffs and knew they had to make some bold moves to put themselves back on the map -- and on the back pages of the New York tabloids.

(A key difference was the Yankees were moving into a new ballpark with more expensive tickets in 2009 and knew they needed to give people additional incentive to fork over the money.)

In the winter of 2008-09, the Yankees went on a spending splurge and landed CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeria, spending well over $500 million for the three combined.

In the short term, the moves paid off. The Yankees won the World Series in '09.

But since then, Teixeira has steadily declined and become more injury-prone. The Yankees paid the Pittsburgh Pirates to take Burnett off their hands for the final two years of the deal. Sabathia has been mostly effective, but the presence of an opt-out clause, nearly exercised after 2011, forced the Yankees into extending Sabathia for one more season plus a vesting option. And he just had his worst year in the big leagues, with an ERA of 4.78.

The Yankees had vowed they wouldn't spend beyond the $189 million luxury tax threshold. But before the winter meetings even began and before they've addressed their starting pitching, the Yankees have already spent $238 million on two players (Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann). And that's before they try to re-sign Robinson Cano.

Coming up next, in a few hours: Last year, it seemed it took Ryan Dempster's beaning of Alex Rodriguez to stir the juices of the the dormant Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. Next season, the rivalry won't need any artificial sweeteners.