The longtime Red Sox leadoff man is said to have chosen the Yankees over Boston and several other teams. The sides are only finalizing details.
Ellsbury was said by a person to be on his way from Phoenix for a physical.
The blockbuster signing is only the latest Boston-to-New York move. Because he is a center fielder, it is reminiscent of the Johnny Damon move after the 2005 season, which was a year removed from a Red Sox World Series championship.
Neither the Yankees nor Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras, immediately confirmed a deal had been struck, but sources suggest there are only final details left to be ironed out.
Ellsbury is to receive a no-trade clause in the deal.
The Yankees have been in simultaneous talks with Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran and many other top free agents, including their own Robinson Cano. Things haven't been progressing with Cano, as the Yankees don't want to go much beyond $170 million over seven years. Cano is seeking $260 million.
Sources didn't rule out the Yankees continuing pursuit of Choo or Beltran, but it would seem that the need would be elsewhere, assuming the Ellsbury deal goes through. Cano also remains a possibility, despite the large gap.
The Ellsbury signing gives the Yankees a second marquee deal this winter, following the $85-million, five-year contract for catcher Brian McCann. The Yankees also have been in talks with free-agent second baseman Omar Infante (but that's mostly in case Cano doesn't re-sign) as well as several free-agent pitchers, and also have their eye on Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka.
Yankees people envision Ellsbury in center field with Brett Gardner moving to left, and the two of them combining for a dynamic top of the lineup. The Yankees also have Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells among their outfield mix.
Ellsbury has been been pursued by his old Red Sox team, and it is believed the Mariners and Giants were among other teams to show interest. Boston is believed to have offered abut $100 million to Ellsbury in spring training, but presumably bumped that a bit after he helped the team win another title, the second one in his time in Boston.