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Jacoby Ellsbury released, Greg Bird designated for assignment as Yankees clear space on 40-man roster

Jacoby Ellsbury of the Yankees looks on during

Jacoby Ellsbury of the Yankees looks on during batting practice prior to the American League Wild Card game against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 3, 2017 in New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Yankees are cutting their losses with their $153 million-dollar man...and eating $26 million in the process.

The Yankees Wednesday released Jacoby Ellsbury ahead of the 8 p.m. deadline to finalize 40-man rosters, thus ending an ill-fated relationship that saw the 36-year-old beset by injury after injury. Ellsbury signed his monster contract in 2014 and has not played in a game since the 2017 ALCS. The Yankees will eat his salary for 2020 (a little over $21 million) and the $5 million buyout for 2021, according to Spotrac.

Additionally, the Yankees designated Greg Bird for assignment, along with pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. Outfielder Estevan Florial and pitchers Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Brooks Kriske, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure were added to the major-league roster, protecting them from the Rule 5 draft.

The Rule 5 Draft is scheduled for Dec. 12 at the baseball winter meetings in San Diego.

General manager Brian Cashman perhaps telegraphed the Ellsbury move in his end-of-season comments, when he said that Ellsbury was "not someone in a position health-wise where I can answer anything" about if he could help the Yankees next year. Aaron Hicks, who underwent Tommy John surgery, likely won't be available until around mid-season, making the outfield a bit more of a question mark.

Ellsbury had a seemingly ever-expanding list of injuries. He underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2018, but also experienced various other setbacks, with injuries to his oblique, foot and hip.

The other big move was Bird, who at one point appeared to be the heir apparent to Mark Teixeira at first base. Like Ellsbury, though, his prospects were dimmed by injuries. After hitting .261 with 11 home runs in 46 games as a sub in 2015, Bird missed all of 2016 after having surgery on his right labrum. Surgeries on his ankle and a foot injury limited him the next few years, and he struggled to get back on track when he did play, hitting .190 in 2017, .199 in 2018 and .171 in 2019 - a span of 140 games.

The lefty hitter, though, might still get some sort of return for the Yankees. The team has seven days to trade him or place him on waivers.

Cortes, meanwhile, went 5-1 in 33 appearances in 2019, with a 5.67 ERA.

Mets DFA Gagnon. Shortstop Andres Gimenez headed a group of four prospects who the Mets added to their 40-man roster on Wednesday, protecting them from next month's Rule 5 Draft.

The other prospects added to the 40-man roster were righthanded pitcher Jordan Humphreys, catcher Ali Sanchez and lefthanded pitcher Thomas Szapucki.

The Mets designated righthanded pitcher Drew Gagnon for assignment. Gagnon appeared in 18 games for the Mets last season, going 3-1 with a 8.37 ERA.

Gimenez, 21, is ranked as the 52nd-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He was signed in July 2015 and made it to Double-A in 2018. He played in 117 games for the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies in 2019, hitting .250 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs, along with an organization-best 28 stolen bases. He won the Arizona Fall League batting title with a  .371 average.

With Mike Rose

Jacoby Ellsbury played in a total of only 520 regular-season games out of a possible 972 during his six seasons as a Yankee:

2014: 149

2015: 111

2016: 148

2017: 112

2018: 0

2019: 0

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