Yankees add Florial, six others to 40-man roster; DFA Bird, Cortes and release Ellsbury

Deivi García

The Yankees added OF Estevan Florial and RHPs Deivi García, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Brooks Kriske, Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure to the 40-man roster Wednesday. To make additional room on the roster, New York designated Greg Bird and Nestor Cortes Jr. for assignment while Jacoby Ellsbury was released.

After today’s moves, the Yankees now have a full 40-man roster before making any free agent moves. Assuming they don’t make further room, they won’t be able to select a player in next month’s Rule 5 draft.

While the Yankees were expected to add many of those seven players to the roster, it was surprising that they fit all of them, including Kriske, Nelson and Yajure, who weren’t locks. Meanwhile, the moves to jettison both Bird and Ellsbury alongside Cortes comes as a shock. Bird made just 41 plate appearances last season while Cortes pitched to a 5.67 ERA.

The Bombers kept Ellsbury on their roster for the last two seasons despite him last playing during the 2017 ALCS. He is owed a $21 million salary in 2020 as well as a $5 million buyout of his 2021 option. The New York Post reported that his final season was not insured, unlike his 2018 and 2019 salaries.

Oswaldo Cabrera, Chris Gittens, Hoy Jun Park and Rony García are among the players the Yankees left unprotected. For more on those names and others, check out Derek’s Rule 5 primer from Tuesday.

In the past, the Yankees have lost plenty of players in the Rule 5 draft, though players are often returned. Cortes, Mike Ford, Caleb Smith and Iván Nova were each selected then returned in recent seasons. The Yankees weren’t so fortunate with Tommy Kahnle and Luis Torrens, each of whom stuck in their new locales.

The last time New York selected a player in the Rule 5 draft was 2011, when the Bombers chose Brad Meyers and purchased the contract of Cesar Cabral, though neither ultimately lasted long in the Bronx.

While the Pinstripers made the aforementioned moves Wednesday, they had previously culled their system of players who they would have needed to add Wednesday. OF Blake Rutherford (White Sox, Robertson/Kahnle/Frazier deal), RHPs Taylor Widener (D-backs, Drury deal) and J.P. Feyereisen (Brewers) were all added to their respective 40-man rosters.

INF Nick Solak, also part of the Brandon Drury deal, was dealt from Tampa Bay to Texas at the deadline last year due to the Rays’ own roster crunch. The Yankees also dealt 1B Ryan McBroom to Kansas City last August and he has remained on the Royals’ 40-man roster. Dom Thompson-Williams (Paxton trade) was not added to the Mariners’ 40-man roster.

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4 Comments

  1. Wire Fan

    With the news that Ells’ last year not being insured, the DFA decision was easy. Not sure why Bird and Cortes being DFA’d is any sort of surprise.

    I like the move to protect Kriske. While he still has control issues, if he can address it a bit, he could be a real factor in the 2nd half. A little surprised they didn’t protect Holder – with the extra position player next year, I think someone will take a flier on him. I guess with Wade and Estrada on the 40, there are only so many utility IFs spots you can keep.

    The one concern moving forward is that there are now a bunch of 40 man spots that either won’t be able to help in 2020 or at best won’t probably be ready until later in the year. At some point the Yankees will still need to add a CFr, a BUC, and possibly a reliever? I wonder if some of the guys protected today still end up as Cashman 40 man trades for non 40 man prospects.

  2. RetroRob

    Ellsbury’s last year not being insured was an important piece of information. If that was known, everyone would have predicted he’d be gone. Bird was redundant with Voit and Ford on the roster, and Andujar perhaps now heading toward getting some reps at 1B. I suppose it’s possible Bird returns on a minor league deal, but I’d say it’s very unlikely. Why stay with the Yankees to play in the minors and/or be blocked by Voit, Ford and Andujar on the major league level instead of going to a team that will give him a real shot at 1B? Cortes was totally expendable. That was the least surprising of any of these moves.

    Interesting that they didn’t find a spot for Holder. He’s likely gone with the 26th man now being added.

    Protecting all these pitchers makes sense. They just revamped their entire pitching coaches/coordinators from the majors down to the lowest levels. They want to try and develop and maximize all these arms.

    They’ll need to make some trades to clear more space. It wouldn’t surprise me if they already have an agreement in place with Gardner but are simply waiting until they open up a spot with a trade.

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