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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.

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.