Before the 8 p.m. ET deadline Wednesday for the Yankees' 40-man roster, New York made two major moves to create room.
The Yankees released center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and designated first baseman Greg Bird for assignment.
New York also designated left-handed pitcher Nestor Cortes while adding outfielder Estevian Florial and right-handed pitcher Deivi Garcia, among seven additions to the 40-man roster.
After he spent his first seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox from 2007-13, Ellsbury signed his seven-year contract worth $153 million for the Yankees in 2014. Ellsbury's first four seasons in New York from 2014-17 logged 520 games while he slashed .264/.330/.386 with 39 home runs and 198 RBI.
After the Yankees' 2017 ALCS loss in seven games to the Houston Astros, Ellsbury did not return to New York for 2018-19. Ellsbury's 2018 season never started because of several injuries, capped by his arthroscopic hip surgery Aug. 7, 2018, which gave him a projected six-month return timeline.
He last discussed his injury status March 18 upon reporting to spring training in Tampa, Florida, and feeling he was "definitely headed in the right direction" while recovering from the hip procedure and a foot injury -- an old plantar faciitis issue that resurfaced and delayed his 2019 return. Ellsbury, 36, was under contract through the end of the 2021 season. He was set to make more than $42 million over his final two years with the Yankees, according to Spotrac.com.
Bird, meanwhile, missed the 2019 season but said Sept. 26 that he would be ready to make his return for spring training. Once in competition with Luke Voit to become the Yankees' Opening Day first baseman, Bird's left plantar fascia tear derailed his regular season before he could fully get off the ground.
Bird, who just turned 27 on Nov. 9, has been with the Yankees since 2015 -- his age-22 season. In four years from 2015-19, he has logged 186 games, slashing .211/.301/.257 with 32 home runs and 98 RBI.