After Brett Gardner’s four-year contract extension was finalized last week, questions have been raised about the disparity between his contract and that of free agent acquisition, Jacoby Ellsbury. But how different are these two players?
Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman admitted back in December that these two players “are very similar” but just 2 1/2 months later signed Brett Gardner to a four-year extension for about 70% less per year than the salary of Jacoby Ellsbury. Photo: N.Y. Post Charles Wenzelberg/Getty Images
We decided to break their stats down; at least those over the past four seasons, a relatively fair sampling, and see how the two speedsters compare. Ultimately, as you will see, they are virtually the same player, the major difference, a non-statistical one, is that Ellsbury is getting paid almost 70% more in salary per year over Gardner. See what you think…
STATS ARE FROM 2010 through 2013:
JACOBY ELLSBURY 112 SB 481 Hits 264 Runs 122 BB .299 BA
BRETT GARDNER 122 SB 421 Hits 272 Runs 196 BB .270 BA
The one stat not listed above are home runs. Ellsbury who has been in the majors for 7 years has never hit more than nine HRs in a single season with the exception of 2011 when he belted 32. Draw your own conclusion here. So if you were to discount that season, Ellsbury hit 33 home runs in his other six seasons combined for an average of 5.5 per year.
Gardner on the other hand has hit 23 in his six total seasons in the bigs for an average of just under 4 per year. Not a great deal of difference between the two in this category in any event.
In our opinion, the Yankees made one great decision and one that is baffling. Signing Gardner now to the four-year $52 million extension was a smart move because if Gardner were to hit say .290 and have 40 stolen bases this season, at the end of the year he could and would demand more than the $13 million per year that was agreed to.
The Ellsbury signing, 7 years at $153 million with an option for an 8th especially when his numbers are compared to Gardner’s, are simply put, illogical. Would the Yankees have grossly overpaid for Ellsbury’s talents if he was on the Brewers let’s say? Did they “pay at any price” because they were stealing the leadoff hitter from the hated Red Sox? Again, you can feel free to draw your own conclusions.
The acquisition would have made a little more more sense if Ellsbury was closer to 25-26 years old as opposed to 30 ( he’ll be 31 this summer). Although he is the same age as Gardner, Ellsbury will be 38 when his contract expires, (39 with his 8th year option) while Gardner will be 35. One would think that Ellsbury’s stolen base production, the main reason the Yankees got him in the first place, will be greatly diminished by the time he reaches the final several years of the contract. Finally, by giving Gardner 3 less years on his contract, what is the message here? That Ellsbury will be better for a longer time than Gardner?
There is another difference between these two players, a more intangible one; Excluding Derek Jeter, the last member of the ‘Core Four’, Brett Gardner is the only Yankees player to come up through their farm system and remain with the team throughout his career. He’ll begin the season as the more popular player but time will tell if he will remain that way.