Jacoby Ellsbury, fresh off winning the World Series with Boston, reached agreement with the rival New York Yankees on a seven-year contract worth $153 million, a person familiar with the negotiations said on Tuesday.
The Ellsbury move headlined a day when the Major League Baseball player market heated up, with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia following centre fielder Ellsbury through the Fenway Park exit, moving to Miami.
Boston already has lined up a catching replacement in A.J. Pierzynski, who comes over from Texas.
Add in a pair of trades by Oakland, a three-team deal involving Arizona, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay, plus two other swaps Tuesday, and baseball’s business season has started to boil a week before the winter meetings.
Ellsbury was to take a physical in New York on Wednesday that he must pass before the third-highest deal for an outfielder in MLB history can be finalised, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorised.
Earlier Tuesday, New York finalised an $85m, 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 leadoff man batted .298 with nine homers and 53 RBIs, and the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium should boost his power numbers.
Pierzynski agreed to a one-year contract with the Red Sox, a person with knowledge of those negotiations said, also on condition of anonymity because the agreement wasn’t final.
Pierzynski and David Ross, Boston’s backup catcher, both will be 37 next season. With prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart making their way up the system, the Red Sox were reluctant to give a multiyear deal to Saltalamacchia.
Saltalamacchia agreed to a $21m, three-year deal with the Marlins, two people familiar with those negotiations said, also on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been finalized.
Also, Minnesota completed a $49 m, four-year contract with pitcher Ricky Nolasco, who made 33 starts last season for Miami.
The Twins are also finishing a $24m, three-year deal with Phil Hughes that is expected to be announced later this week.
Tampa Bay acquired relief pitcher Heath Bell from Arizona and catcher Ryan Hanigan from Cincinnati, and the Rays sent pitcher Justin Choate and a player to be named to Arizona. The Diamondbacks sent pitcher David Holmberg to Cincinnati.
Hanigan agreed to a $10.75 m, three-year contract.
Oakland, which acquired Jim Johnson from Baltimore on Monday, reached an agreement with free-agent pitcher Scott Kazmir, The Athletics also obtained outfielder Craig Gentry and pitcher Josh Lindblom from Texas for outfielder Michael Choice and infielder Chris Bostick. They also took pitcher Luke Gregerson from San Diego for outfielder Seth Smith.
In other deals, Philadelphia acquired pitcher Brad Lincoln from Toronto for catcher Erik Kratz and pitcher Rob Rasmussen; while Houston took outfielder Dexter Fowler and a player to be named from Colorado for outfielder Brandon Barnes and pitcher Jordan Lyles.