The Yankees released two Major League players on Wednesday, cutting ties with outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and first baseman Greg Bird. Both players had battled bouts with injury and ineffectiveness, but the decision to release seem far-fetched, especially given the $21 million owed to Ellsbury in 2020.
While the Yankees can undoubtedly carry the burden of a sunk cost, Ellsbury has long been a hindrance to their outfield plans. The club inked him to a 7-year, $153 million deal following the 2013 season, and has since seen his career plummet as compared to the player he was during his time with the Red Sox. Ellsbury was one of the more sought-after free agents of the decade following a monstrous 2013 campaign in Boston, but this time hits the market as a broken 36-year-old who will likely be fighting to fill a reserve role in 2020.
As for Greg Bird, plantar fasciitis limited the 27-year-old to just ten games in 2019. His inability to stay healthy has clearly worn the Yankees thin with regards to his place in New York, and Bird’s release could be a sign that his health is even worse than expected at the moment. The Yankees are ripe with offensive firepower, and having an injury-riddled, first base-only type of player on the payroll was clearly an expenditure worth losing. Bird, if healthy, could fit in somewhere as a cheap power-hitting option.
As Scott writes, having money tied up in bullpen arms may not be a great investment on the surface, but it represents a great shift in how the Braves intend to operate this winter.
You don’t spend $40 million on Will Smith, Mark Melancon, Chris Martin and Shane Greene (assuming he is tendered a contract in arbitration) to open the season with a payroll of $120 million like it has been in recent years. You don’t spend $40 million on a quartet of veteran relievers to go cheap elsewhere on the roster.
The Braves are being aggressive with regards to their bullpen, and doing so could pay huge dividends when it matters most, as Shawn writes.
No, to compete with teams with deeper pockets, the Braves have to get creative and risky. Through some astute accounting ($2M saved from Tyler Flowers and Markakis, $12M from declining Julio Teheran’s option), the Braves freed up $16M in additional funds to operate with this offseason. They used that savings to create the ability to feature Will Smith, Chris Martin, and Darren O’Day for multiple seasons into the future. Along with Melancon, Greene (who is here to stay according to Anthopoulos) and Luke Jackson, this bullpen has the potential to be one of the best, and deepest, in baseball.
The Angels could be in the market for two elite arms.
The Baby Shark is taking his talents to Japan.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is probably getting fitted for a Home Depot apron already. He and Coppy should have plenty to talk about on their lunch break.