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Buster Olney on M&M: ‘The reaction around the sport is that [the Yankees] overpaid’ for Jacoby Ellsbury

12.04.13 at 2:09 pm ET
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ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and discussed the Yankees‘€™ reported signing of Jacoby Ellsbury, and other free agents around MLB.

Ellsbury, according to a report by CBS Sports’€™ Jon Heyman, signed a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees on Tuesday night.

‘€œI don’€™t think that the Red Sox were close, based on what I’€™ve heard. Basically it was communicated to them, ‘€˜Look, we’€™re talking about numbers in a different ballpark,’€™ and I think the Red Sox all along thought that there was a good chance that that was going to happen,’€ Olney said.

Ellsbury’s deal mirrors Carl Crawford‘s contract with Boston in 2011, as the speedy outfielder received a seven-year, $142 million contract from the Red Sox to leave the Rays. This is now known as one of the worst contracts in baseball, considering that Boston traded Crawford after less than two injury-plagued, disappointing seasons.

‘€œI’€™m sure that the Yankees look at this deal a little bit like they did the [Mark] Teixeira deal where their feeling is, ‘€˜We know at the beginning of the deal we’€™ll probably get good production, we’€™ll hope for good production, and at the end of the deal it could get ugly,’ ‘€ Olney said. ‘€œThe reaction around the sport is that they overpaid.’€

New York made its first big splash in the free agent market on Nov. 23 when the team signed catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract.

‘€œWhen I heard about [the Ellsbury signing] I wasn’€™t really surprised,’€ Olney said, adding. ‘€œThe Yankees brand is about winning and it’€™s about making the playoffs, it’€™s about winning the World Series. And so after the struggles they had, especially their offense in 2013, you knew there would be a response.’€

These two recent deals, and the possibility of forking over heaps of cash to Robinson Cano in the near future, have made many wonder about the Yankees’€™ plan with their starting pitching. CC Sabathia, who is coming off his worst season as a pro, and an inconsistent Ivan Nova headline New York’s rotation. Hiroki Kuroda, arguably the Yankees’ best pitcher during the past two seasons, is mulling a return to Japan for next season.

‘€œI think they feel like that in either case, no matter what happened, that they were going to have to piece together some stuff with the pitching,’€ Olney said. ‘€œI do think if Hiroki Kuroda comes back, he’€™ll certainly come back with them. They’€™re increasingly confident that that’€™ll be the case.’€

Former Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was swept up by the Marlins on Tuesday as well, leaving Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew as the remaining high-profile Boston free agents.

‘€œIn Napoli’€™s case, the Mariners are the wild card in that thing,’€ Olney said, adding: ‘€œGMs are saying that if you’€™re an agent and you want your client to get signed, you might want to pitch a tent right outside the Mariners office.’€

‘€œIt wouldn’€™t at all surprise me if Stephen Drew winds up doubling back and having to make a deal [in Boston], because all around baseball a lot of the doors have been slammed in his face,’€ Olney said.

The Dodgers revealing that they’€™ll listen to offers for at least one of their outfielders made many wonder if Matt Kemp and Boston could be a fit, particularly after the departure of Ellsbury. But Olney said a different Los Angeles outfielder would be an even better fit.

‘€œI think the more interesting player for the Red Sox is going to be Andre Ethier. Because the Dodgers are telling teams, ‘€˜Look, we will eat money to make a deal happen,’€™ ” Olney said.

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: andre ethier, Brian McCann, buster olney, carl crawford
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