And Boston already has lined up a catching replacement in A.J. Pierzynski.
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 struck the third-highest deal for an outfielder in baseball history, a $153 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees, who are retooling after missing the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years. The center 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.
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. Among outfielders, only $160 million contracts for Manny Ramirez and Matt Kemp are more lucrative.
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.
The lefty-hitting Pierzynski and righty David Ross, Boston's backup, both will be 37 next season. With catching prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart making their way up the system, the Red Sox were reluctant to give a multiyear deal to Saltalamacchia.
Pierzynski hit .272 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs last season with Texas.
Saltalamacchia agreed to a $21 million, three-year deal with the 100-loss Marlins, two people familiar with those negotiations said, also on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been finalized.
Saltalamacchia started the past three seasons for the Red Sox and hit a career-high .273 with 15 homers, 40 doubles and 65 RBIs last season. He hit .188 in the postseason and was benched during the World Series.
Also Tuesday, Minnesota completed a $49 million, four-year contract with right-hander Ricky Nolasco. The Twins, coming off their third straight season of at least 86 losses, also is finishing a $24 million, three-year deal with right-hander Phil Hughes that is expected to be announced later this week.
"This isn't a change in philosophy," general manager Terry Ryan said. "We've always said if we need to do something now we have the resources to do it. ... If we were still in the Metrodome, this probably wouldn't happen. But we're in Target Field. We've got more revenue and resources, certainly. This is a nice opportunity. We need pitching. We went out and got it."
Nolasco made 33 starts last season for the Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers, going 13-11 with a 3.70 ERA.
Heath Bell was part of a three-team trade for the second straight offseason. Tampa Bay acquired Bell from Arizona and catcher Ryan Hanigan from Cincinnati, and the Rays sent right-hander Justin Choate and a player to be named to Arizona. The Diamondbacks sent left-hander David Holmberg to Cincinnati.
Bell was 5-2 with a 4.11 ERA with 15 saves last season and wants to close.
"I think I have a shot of winning that job, the ninth-inning job, but I see my role as being to come in to spring training and show them what I can do," Bell said.
Hanigan agreed to a $10.75 million, three-year contract and is looking forward to playing for manager Joe Maddon, who's led the Rays to the playoffs in four of the past six seasons.
"The numbers speak for themselves in terms of the competitiveness of the team year after year. It's a great thing they have going," Hanigan said.
After acquiring Jim Johnson from Baltimore on Monday night and reaching an agreement with free-agent pitcher Scott Kazmir, Oakland obtained outfielder Craig Gentry and right-hander Josh Lindblom from Texas for outfielder Michael Choice and infielder Chris Bostick. The Athletics also obtained right-hander Luke Gregerson from San Diego for outfielder Seth Smith.
"It's fun. We've always had a pretty fraternal group," A's general manager Billy Beane said. "We had some spots we needed to fill. I think we addressed the areas we needed to and in some cases I think maybe even upgraded, particularly when you look at the bullpen with the addition of both Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson. We all feel real good about where we are. The next step is putting it on the field."
In other deals, Philadelphia acquired right-hander Brad Lincoln from Toronto for catcher Erik Kratz and left-hander Rob Rasmussen; and Houston obtained outfielder Dexter Fowler and a player to be named from Colorado for outfielder Brandon Barnes and right-hander Jordan Lyles.