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Yankees open vault for Ellsbury

Seven-year, $153-M deal lures free agent

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NEW YORK -- Free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, fresh off winning the World Series with Boston, reached agreement with the rival New York Yankees on a seven-year contract worth about $153 million, a person familiar with the negotiations said Tuesday night.

Ellsbury is the second major free-agent addition in the Yankees' off-season rebuilding after missing the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years. The centre-fielder was to take a physical in New York on Wednesday that he must pass before the deal can be finalized, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

The Yankees also had been negotiating with outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who like Ellsbury is represented by agent Scott Boras.

Earlier Tuesday, New York finalized an $85 million, five-year contract with all-star catcher Brian McCann.

There is a long history of stars moving from Beantown to the Big Apple during their careers. Babe Ruth was the most famous, and Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs and Johnny Damon followed.

Ellsbury, who turned 30 in September, led the majors with 52 stolen bases despite being hobbled late in the season by a broken right foot. The lefty-hitting leadoff man batted .298 with nine homers and 53 RBIs, and the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium should boost his power numbers.

Ellsbury's deal includes a $21 million option for the 2021 season, with a $5 million buyout. If the option is exercised, the deal would be worth $169 million over eight years.

His agreement may not be finalized this week, and it's possible he could be introduced by the Yankees during a news conference at the winter meetings next week in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The move would raise the Yankees' luxury tax payroll to about $138 million for 10 players. The Yankees hope to get under the $189 million tax threshold next season, which includes about $177 million for salaries for the 40-man roster and approximately $12 million for benefits.

New York also has been speaking with the agents for Robinson Cano, their All-Star second baseman. The Yankees, who rebuffed his request for a 10-year deal worth more than $300 million, believe he has been in talks with the Seattle Mariners.

Ellsbury won a pair of World Series titles with the Red Sox and was an All-Star in 2011, when he finished second to Detroit's Justin Verlander in AL MVP voting. He has reached the post-season four times and is a career .301 hitter in those 38 games.

After their playoff absence, the Yankees are undergoing a major transformation. Closer Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte are retiring, Phil Hughes is leaving to sign with Minnesota and New York appears to be making little effort to retain outfielder Curtis Granderson.

McCann, a seven-time All-Star, is to be introduced at a news conference Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

He receives $17 million in each of the next five seasons, and the Yankees have a $15 million option for 2019 with no buyout. The option becomes McCann's if he has at least 1,000 plate appearances combined in 2017 and 2018, has at least 90 starts at catcher in 2018 and does not end the 2018 season on the disabled list.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 4, 2013 C6

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