NEW YORK — Two days after releasing Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees have filed a grievance seeking to recoup a lion’s share of the money they’ve paid him since 2017, as well as what they still owe. The filing comes after the team learned the chronically injured center fielder was receiving unauthorized and undisclosed medical treatment from an Atlanta clinic.
Citing violation of the standard player’s contract which requires players “to remain in first class physical condition” and to inform the club of any medical treatment received outside of the realm of the team’s physicians, the Yankees, through the grievance, are asking that the final year of Ellsbury’s $21 million contract for 2020 be converted to non-guaranteed (they owe an additional $5 million for buying out 2021). A few months ago, the Yankees were tipped off that Ellsbury had been receiving treatment at the Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta, headed up by a controversial physician named Viktor Bouquette.
This, in turn, prompted Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the team Manfred typically leans on for PED cases to launch their own investigation into Bouquette and the Atlanta firm.
So far, the firm has not released Ellsbury’s records to MLB, but it is believed he’s been getting treatment there since 2017, meaning the $63 million he was paid for the 2017-2019 seasons may also be challenged by the Yankees. The case will now go before the baseball arbitrator with a vigorous defense from the Players Association and Ellsbury’s agent, Scott Boras.
In any case, Bouquette has a checkered history. In May 2011, the State of Georgia Medical Board concluded he had improperly diagnosed and treated a 56-year-old woman who died in 2002 while undergoing intravenous chelation therapy. The consent order required Bouquette to pay a $5,000 fine and refrain from providing intravenous chelation therapy to patients without fully documenting the need for such treatment for the patient.
It was later revealed that, 14 years previously, Bouquette dropped his medical insurance, which he said he did to shield himself from frivolous lawsuits. He offered the woman’s family $10,000, which they turned down.
No matter what the Yankees are able to recoup, the seven-year/$153 million Ellsbury contract goes down in history as one of the worst free-agent deals ever by a major league team. The Yankees got one good year out of him — and nothing at all in 2018 and 2019.
His production was nowhere near what he had during his years with the Red Sox, especially 2008 and 2009, when he led the American League in stolen bases with 50 and 70, respectively, or his 2011 season when he hit .321 with 105 RBIs and 119 runs scored.