Does that name sound familiar? Ellsbury was a homegrown Red Sox prospect, one that helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 and became one of the game's best outfielders for a stretch.
He then demanded a massive contract, and the Red Sox let him walk. The outfielder signed a contract with the New York Yankees, and I think you can picture how outraged Boston fans were. Now, the anger was not directed towards the Red Sox front office, because we all knew Ellsbury was gone long before the end of the season.
The frustrating part was watching a player we had seen grow up before our eyes turn successful and bolt for money.
All is forgotten now, as all of Red Sox Nation breaks out in laughter every time Jacoby Ellsbury's name is brought up. Two years into his ridiculous 7-year, $153 million contract, the 32-year-old is consistently hurt and no longer performs when he is actually available to his team.
In fact, the perfectly healthy Ellsbury watched from the bench as his team's season ended in last night's lost to Houston in the American League Wildcard Game as the team felt they had more talented options than their 153 million dollar man.
This begs the question: Is the era of buying success in baseball over?
If you ask me, the answer is yes.
Let's look at the Yankees for example. After signing Ellsbury to the massive seven-year deal, the team also gave big-money deals to aging catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Carlos Beltran, who is nearing 40-years-old and has looked absolutely brutal since signing the contract.
New York also gave a huge deal to CC Sabathia, who has also had his share of struggles on the field as age continues to catch up with him. The list of huge contracts owned by Yankee players goes on, but the success doesn't match the spending, and it isn't even close.
Now to the other side. Look at some of the best teams in baseball. The Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Chicago Cubs all have significantly smaller budgets than teams like the Yankees, and are all among the best the league has to offer.
Each one of those clubs built their team through scouting, development, and small free agent signings that look like bargains when all is said and done. They have excellent farm systems and develop their own stars rather than overspend on aging players who are passed their prime. When their homegrown sensations reach the point of cashing in, they let teams like New York pay them and they call up the next guy.
The best part is: it works.
And if you hadn't noticed, the Red Sox have begun taking that approach. Boston has one of the best farm systems in baseball, and we are already starting to reap the benefits with players like Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, etc. Now, this is still Boston, and the Red Sox still have money. So the occasional big signing is going to happen, but on the surface it appears the team has wised up and realized that buying wins is no longer the way to go.
Sorry New York, but your money no longer matters.
By Jacob Young, @Jacob_BBS