By Brendan Kuty
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Yankees and Diamondbacks have engaged in trade talks recently, and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was among the various names that were tossed around, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.
But Arizona didn’t show strong interest in the 34-year-old, the source said, though nothing is believed to be off the table.
The source requested anonymity in order to speak freely.
Ellsbury, who has a full no-trade clause, is due $63 million over the last three years of his contract and has a $5 million buyout for the 2021 season. The source said the Diamondbacks particularly weren’t thrilled with money attached to Ellsbury, who figures to be the Yankees’ fifth outfielder next season.
Ellsbury was the Yankees’ starting center fielder from when he signed a seven-year, $153-million deal to put on pinstripes in 2014 until the postseason, when Aaron Hicks took over for him.
Ellsbury has a house in Arizona and the Diamondbacks would appear to have an open starting spot in their outfield.
Shedding salary was a priority for the Yankees at the 2017 MLB Winter Meetings, which wrapped up Thursday morning. They were able to knock about $13 million off their books when they sent third baseman Chase Headley to the Padres. They included pitcher Bryan Mitchell to sweeten the deal, which also included the Yankees receiving outfielder Jabari Blash.
Owner Hal Steinbrenner has said it’s his goal for the Yankees to keep payroll below the $197 million luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season. Doing that will reset the club’s luxury tax penalty for 2019.
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman first reported that the Yankees and Diamondbacks were talking. They discussed lefty starting pitcher Patrick Corban and third baseman Brandon Drury, according to Sherman. The Yankees are “working hard” to add starting pitching, manager Aaron Boone said, and they have a hole at third base with Headley gone.