Yankees castoff Greg Bird an intriguing buy-low target for Giants
By Joel Reuter
At this point in the offseason, the San Francisco Giants are bargain hunting, and Greg Bird could be a worthwhile roll of the dice on a minor league deal.
There was a time not long ago when it looked like Greg Bird was going to be a star for the New York Yankees. Now he’s potentially available to the San Francisco Giants for little more than a minor league contract.
The 27-year-old was designated for assignment by the Yankees and after clearing waivers he rejected an outright assignment in favor of free agency.
With that, his time with the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft came to an end, and he’s still searching for a new contract with spring training rapidly approaching.
After quietly rising the minor league ranks without ever cracking a league wide top 100 prospect list, Bird debuted with a bang in 2015 playing in place of an injured Mark Teixeira.
He made his MLB debut on Aug. 13 and wound up hitting .261/.343/.529 for a 135 OPS+ with 11 home runs in 178 plate appearances to help the Yankees claim a wild-card berth.
Big things were expected from him in his first full season the following year, but it ended before it ever began. He suffered a torn labrum during the offseason and missed the entire season recovering from surgery.
He returned the following spring with a flourish, slugging eight home runs while posting a 1.654 OPS, as he again looked poised to breakout.
Instead, a foot injury limited him to just 48 games, though he did return in time for the playoffs where he went 10-for-41 with three home runs and six RBI in 13 games.
The injuries have continued to pile up from there, with ankle surgery limiting him in 2018 and a left plantar fascia tear sidelined him last year.
All told, he’s played in just 140 games over the last four years since his promising rookie season, hitting .194/.287/.388 with 21 home runs in 522 plate appearances.
So why would the Giants be interested?
Given his lengthy injury history, Bird is going to have to settle for a minor league contract and a spring training invite, and there’s zero risk attached to such a contract.
Much like the team did with Stephen Vogt last year, he could be sent to Triple-A to shake off the injury rust, and then added to the active roster if and when he proves productive.
With Brandon Belt’s lengthy injury history and the San Francisco Giants glaring need for more power, taking a flier on Greg Bird and stashing him in Triple-A in hopes he can stay upright and productive could wind up paying significant dividends in 2020.