The Yankees have formally ended an era that began with optimism and ended with disillusionment and despair. Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird are history…
In other moves dedicated to trimming their roster in preparation for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, the Yankees has also designated left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. and added seven players – outfielder Estevan Florial and right-handers Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Brooks Kriske, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson, and Miguel Yajure – to its 40-man roster.
Goodbye – good riddance
Ken Davidoff and George A. King III of the New York Post first reported the Yankees were considering releasing Ellsbury. But Yankees fans have long urged breaking ties with The $153 Million Man, and it was considered a when not if he would be released question.
The team remains responsible for the $26 million remaining on Ellsbury’s contract, and he is free to hook on with another team.
However, it will be interesting to see what the Yankee’s legal team does in a civil suit if Ellsbury undergoes an Immaculate Recovery and plays 145 games in another team’s outfield.
But for most Yankees fans, who cares? He’s gone, and from this point forward, the only thing that matters is that Jacoby Ellsbury is never invited to attend the annual Old Timer’s Day celebration at Yankee Stadium.
Sorry to see you go
Greg Bird, on the other hand, and except for the enormous costs associated with an endless list of surgeries and rehab efforts to get him healthy, did not cost the Yankees a dime.
Instead, the team’s “giving up” on Bird is seen as an emotional rollercoaster that, at one point, included a vicious attack on Bird’s character when a journalist and (reportedly) even the Yankees brass, floated the inference that Bird was “soft.”
Unlike Ellsbury, who has been severed from the team, Bird has a decision to make if the Yankees “designate” a minor league assignment for him in 2020.
One might think – or even hope – that Bird realizes this is an opportune time to turn the page in his baseball career by refusing the assignment. It’s sensible to assume any number of teams would be willing to take a flyer on Bird.
After all, it’s reasonable to assume the player Yankees GM Brian Cashman once called the best pure hitter in the Yankees system – still retains the same hand to eye coordination necessary to hit a 95mph fastball – regardless of his foot injury history.
Yankees round out their 40-man roster
The inclusion of Nestor Cortes Jr. in those not protected is a surprise but only a minor one. Cortes, however, does not fit the profile of either a starter or reliever in the context of baseball 2020.
Cortes turned in a 5.67 ERA/5.57 FIP over a 66 2/3-inning span as a Yankees starter/reliever in 2019.
Unlike Bird, though, Cortes should be encouraged by those close to him to take the demotion, turn in another performance at Triple-A that earned the Yankees attention last year – and go from there.
Among the others, like you, perhaps, I need to do some research on the remaining players mentioned above before any analysis is warranted.
Is Estevan Florial the next Greg Bird?
A possible exception, however, is Estevan Florial. No matter where you look, Florial is always listed not only among the Yankees “Top Prospects” but among those in all of baseball. But here’s the kicker…
Here’s what Baseball America’s Josh Norris said about Florial:
“He’ll rank in the Top 30 (list of prospect), and he continues to show raw tools, but he needs to stay healthy, and he needs to hit. Both of his injuries are freak injuries, but they’ve also opened him up to serious questions about his future offensive abilities. Beyond that, he still needs to show in-zone command.”
“He really hasn’t had much time to show growth. Two injuries like he’s had will certainly cost you a lot of development time.”
Conceivably, this puts Estevan Florial on the same (eventual) path of Greg Bird.
The Hot Stove is heating up. These are revealing decisions the Yankees have made internally regarding where they see their team as they enter the beginning stages of formulating their roster for 2020.