Johnny Damon Says Yankees’ Signing of Jacoby Ellsbury ‘Puts Them Right Back Into the Race Again’

Johnny DamonWatching players trade in their Red Sox jersey for Yankee pinstripes isn’t an uncommon sight for Boston sports fans, and on Tuesday night, Jacoby Ellsbury became the latest Boston star to join the Bronx Bombers as a free agent.

He has reportedly signed a seven-year deal worth $153 million with New York, joining Wade Boggs and Johnny Damon as the most notable Red Sox players in the last 25 years to take their talents to the Bronx after an impressive Red Sox career.

Damon, who signed a multi-year deal with the Yankees in 2005 after spending four seasons in Boston, spoke to MLB.com’s Ian Browne on Tuesday night about Ellsbury’s decision.

“I think it depends on what people make of it. Jacoby just helped the team win another World Series,” Damon said. “[Fans are] going to be grateful for that. But the Boston fans are notoriously hateful to Yankee players. The way that Jacoby plays, he’s still going to have the respect throughout the league. The fact is, he hustles, and that’s what Boston wants — somebody who cares about the game and somebody who would run into walls and who would take accountability, and that’s the guy. Yeah, it’s going to be tough at times but he’s a good enough player that the fans are still going to respect what he gave to Boston and what he’s going to give to New York.”

Damon also shared his thoughts on how the signing of Ellsbury impacts the Yankees’ chances of getting back to the postseason after a disappointing 2013 season.

“Oh, I think it’s going to play great for his swing,” Damon said. “He has power and still has a lot of good years left in him. And the thing is, New York needed to do it. They’re not looked at as one of the elite teams. With that signing, it puts them right back into the race again…”

The Yankees already made a splash in the free-agent market by signing veteran catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract in November. When you combine that signing with the money that Ellsbury is reportedly going to receive, this offseason is becoming more and more similar to the winter of 2008 when New York spent over $300 million to sign Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia and Nick Swisher.

The result of that spending spree was a 2009 World Series title, and it will be interesting to see if the Yankees’ latest signings produce a similar outcome in 2014.

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