In a cruel and extremely 2019 twist of fate, the New York Yankees have let Greg Bird fly away for the second time in recent seasons. If Bird is going to get over the final hump of his extended return from injury and crack a major-league roster in the second half of 2022, odds are extremely strong that opportunity will not come with the Yankees.
And, for everyone who was overly concerned about Bird’s return on a minor-league deal this winter: there’s your answer. If he didn’t hit, he wouldn’t receive any sort of favoritism from the big-league Yankees. He didn’t hit. Now, he’s been released, quite possibly to pursue another opportunity (that tends to be how these MiLB deals work, anyway).
Bird rose from the ashes in 2021, resurfacing with the PCL’s Albuquerque Isotopes in the Colorado Rockies system to drill 27 homers, notch 91 RBI, and post an inflated .894 OPS in the hitter-friendly west-coast league.
After a dominant 2022 spring training with the Blue Jays that resulted in more than a little Yankees teeth-gnashing, the Bombers signed him after a surprise release late in March. Now unencumbered with the fear that he’d drill the baseball for the AL East Champion Jays all spring long, all that was left was to see whether or not he could produce in a return to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He could not.
Yankees release Greg Bird from minor-league contract
In 59 games in the Yankees system, Bird got on base at a typical clip, but couldn’t produce much with the bat (.218 average, .325 OBP). He hit six homers and knocked in 22 runs, but couldn’t replicate his 2021 success outside of the PCL’s altitude, and didn’t emerge as a depth option the Yankees trusted.
Until we learn more about the circumstances of this release, it seems likely the rehabilitation project just didn’t go as well as expected.
Bird, once viewed as the savior for the mid-2010s Yankees, never managed to fly as high as anticipated after shoulder surgery knocked him out of the 2016 season before it even began. When he returned, his bat looked a step-and-a-half slow more often than not, though he was briefly the only Yankee whose power remained during the 2017 postseason against Cleveland (he beat Andrew Miller) and in Houston.
Bird deserves a thanks for those particular memories, but unfortunately not much else, after he established an upward trajectory during his 2015 debut. At this point, he could either be the next Chris Carter or Rob Refsnyder, and neither outcome would be particularly stunning.