The Giants' outfield situation is presenting more questions than answers with just weeks to go until the start of Spring Training, and now we can add another one to the list.
The question: Why is Jacoby Ellsbury's name being associated with San Francisco?
As SF has canvassed the market for OF help, they've talked about Jacoby Ellsbury, probably would be open to a bad contract swap. For example, speculation: Cueto owed $68m, coming back from TJ surgery; NYY could recoup insurance in '19. Ellsbury owed $48m. $ would have to even out— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 4, 2019
Ellsbury, 35, missed all of last season with a series of injuries. He's still owed $48 million on the 7-year, $153 million contract he signed with the Yankees after the 2013 season. He's a lifetime .284 hitter and former Gold Glove award winner, but he's played his entire career in the hitter-friendly AL East.
Given that the Giants are intent on getting younger and more athletic, Ellsbury wouldn't seem to make much sense for the Giants on the surface. But, as Olney points out, it makes more sense in the framework of a salary swap.
NYY, SF could benefit from an Ellsbury-Cueto swap.
SF could swap a player who won't help them in '19 for somebody who can play OF role, with CF experience. NYY, overloaded with OF, could move Ellsbury off roster and get insurance relief on Cueto. Again, $ would have to work.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 4, 2019
Like Ellsbury, the Giants have a few of their own albatross contracts, including that of starter Johnny Cueto, who is still owed $68 million.
Cueto, 32, went 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA in 53.0 innings for the Giants last season before being shut down with an injury that required Tommy John surgery in August.
The normal timetable for a pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery is around 12-14 months, so it's quite possible Cueto doesn't figure into San Francisco's plans for the upcoming season.
Still, given Ellsbury's injury history and hefty price tag, he's hardly more of a 'sure thing' than Cueto in the year ahead.