After he missed the last two seasons due to injuries, the New York Yankees released outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury on Nov. 20, just before the 40-man roster deadline. A member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, Ellsbury broke in with the Boston Red Sox in 2007. He signed a $153 million free agent contract with the Yanks in 2014.
It looked like the Yankees were prepared to eat almost $26 million of his contract, but MLB Network’s Jon Heyman is reporting they are withholding the money because Ellsbury allegedly violated his contract by seeking medical treatment not approved by the team.
He had his best seasons with the Red Sox. In 2011, he was healthy for the entire season and hit 32 home runs, batted .321, and had 105 RBI. He had 212 hits and scored 119 runs. He was named to the American League All-Star team and placed second in the balloting for AL Most Valuable Player.
Ellsbury led the American League in triples in 2009 with 10. He led the American League in stolen bases three times, with 50 in 2008, 70 in 2009, and 52 in 2013.
Ellsbury has been plagued with injuries for much of his career. In 2010, the year before his best season, he appeared in just 18 games. In 2012, he appeared in just 74 games.
He missed all of 2018 and 2019. He also missed substantial portions of 2015 and 2017. His only two full seasons for the Yanks were 2014, when he went 16-.271-70 in 149 games, and 2016, when he went 9-.253-56 in 148 games.
Ricky Doyle of the New England Sports Network remarked that Red Sox’ fans are recognizing it turned out to be a good thing the team let Ellsbury go to the Yankees as a free agent. He said the case should serve as a cautionary tale on the risks of spending large amounts of money on free agents.
Ellsbury is a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes and is of Navajo descent. His parents are Jim and Margie McCabe Ellsbury of Madras, Oregon. In 1995, Jacoby, his mother and his brothers lived in Parker because his grandmother, Alice McCabe, was ill. He attended LePera Elementary School and played in Parker Little League.
The family returned to Oregon and Jacoby earned a baseball scholarship to Oregon State University.
In an article published in April 2008, Pioneer reporter Joan Travis described how Ellsbury reached the Major Leagues:
Ellsbury had a stellar career at Oregon State University. In 2003, he hit .330 for the season and was chosen 2003 Freshman Second Team NCAA All-American. The following year he hit .352 and was chosen 2004 PAC-10 Conference All-Star.
In 2005, he batted .406 and received the PAC-10 honor again and 2005 First Team NCAA All-American.
On June 7, 2005, Ellsbury was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round. A month later he was in Boston and, on July 12, he signed a $1.4 million contract and began his minor league career.
On June 30, 2007, Ellsbury got the call to "The Big Show" and was placed in centerfield and given number 46. He batted ninth against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park.
He got his first major league hit in the bottom of the third inning. At the top of the next inning, he caught a pop up fly off the bat of Sammy Sosa.
He appeared in six games for the Red Sox and returned to the minors on July 5. On Aug. 31, he got the call up to fill the 40 man roster for the post season. He was named MLB American League Rookie of the Month for September.
In the postseason, Ellsbury played in 11 games, hitting .360 in 25 at bats with nine hits and two stolen bases.
In the third inning of the third game of the 2007 World Series, he joined Matt Williams (2001) as the only players to hit two doubles in the same inning. He was also the first rookie to accomplish this.
In the eighth inning, he became one of four rookies ever to hit three doubles in a World Series game.
For the entire 2007 Series, he batted .438, with four doubles and a stolen base.