Tagged in: Jacoby Ellsbury

Yankees release Jacoby Ellsbury

The Yankees opened wide Wednesday night and swallowed hard when they released Jacoby Ellsbury, whom they owe $21 million for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout on a $21 million option for 2021.

By 8 p.m. the Yankees had to set their 40-man roster to make room for prospects they wanted to protect from being taken in next month’s Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings in San Diego.

With their roster at 36 and not counting Domingo German — likely to be suspended for the start of the 2020 season — the Yankees added six minor league players, released Ellsbury and designated first baseman Greg Bird and lefty Nelson Cortes Jr. for assignment.

The Yankees added outfielder Estevan Florial, and right-handers Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Brooks Kriske, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure to the roster.

Releasing the 36-year-old Ellsbury, who hasn’t played since the 2017 ALCS due to a buffet of injuries that included hip surgery late in the 2018 campaing, puts an end to the seven-year, $153 million contract the Yankees dumped on the left-handed hitting center fielder before the 2014 campaing.

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Ellsbury’s final season at $21 million wasn’t going to be insured. Even after his release, Ellsbury and his annual average value of nearly $22 million would count toward the Yankees’ 2020 luxury-tax figure.

Paying $26 million to a released player could impact what the Yankees do in free agency since it will count toward the luxury-tax threshold.

The move arrives at a time when the Yankees could use outfield help, as Aaron Hicks will likely miss the first two months of the season because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

In four years with the Yankees, Ellsbury batted .264 with a .330 on-base percentage and posted a .716 OPS. The previous seven seasons with the Red Sox, Elllsbury batted .297 with a .350 on-base percentage and .789 OPS.

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