Yankees release Jacoby Ellsbury, designate Greg Bird for assignment

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The Yankees announced some stunning news on Wednesday: outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has been released and first baseman Greg Bird was designated for assignment. In doing so, the Yankees opened up a couple of spots on the 40-man roster, which allows them to protect some younger players from the Rule 5 draft.

The news is stunning, though not surprising — one just didn’t expect Ellsbury and Bird’s tenures to end so unceremoniously. Ellsbury hasn’t played since 2017 due to injuries. He is owed $21.1 million for the 2020 season plus a $5 million buyout in 2021.

Ellsbury, 36, was a big free agent get for the Yankees ahead of the 2014 season, inking a seven-year, $153 million contract. Along with injuries, he underperformed, batting a meager .264/.330/.386 with an aggregate 9.8 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, from 2014-17.

Bird, 27, debuted with a lot of hype in 2015, mashing 11 home runs in 46 games as a 22-year-old. He, too, missed lots of time in recent years due to injuries. He ends his Yankees tenure with a .725 OPS and 0.1 WAR across 186 games spanning parts of four seasons.