The Yankees on Wednesday gave up on Ellsbury, cutting the oft-injured outfielder with more than $26 million left in his seven-year, $153 million contract.
Ellsbury, who has not played since 2017, was released to clear a 40-man roster spot as the Yankees added seven players to protect them from next month's Rule 5 draft.
Ellsbury is owed $26,285,714 by the Yankees in one of their biggest free-agent mistakes: $21,142,857 for next season plus a $5 million buyout of a $21 million team option for 2021.
New York also cut frequently injured first baseman Bird and left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr., designating the pair for assignment.
Outfielder Estevan Florial was added to the major league roster along with right-handers Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Brooks Kriske, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure.
Now 36, Ellsbury hit .264 with 39 homers, 198 RBIs and 102 stolen bases in 520 games over four seasons with the Yankees. He spent his first seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox and was an All-Star in 2011, and he arrived in New York with a .297 career average, 65 homers, 314 RBIs and 241 steals for Boston.
Ellsbury injured an oblique muscle in his right side early during spring training in 2018, developed a bad back and had hip surgery Aug. 6 to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He experienced plantar fasciitis in his right foot during his rehab program before spring training this year.
Bird, who turned 27 on Nov. 9, arrived in New York with great promise in 2015, debuting Aug. 13 and hitting .261 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs in 46 games. He missed all of 2016 following surgery that Feb. 2 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury originally suffered in May 2015 with Double-A Trenton.
He returned to bat .451 with eight homers in spring training during 2017 but fouled a ball off his right ankle March 30, started the season 6-for-60 and went on the disabled list May 2. When the foot did not improve, Bird had surgery July 18 to remove a bone in the ankle. He returned in late August and hit three home runs in the playoffs, including a seventh-inning drive off Andrew Miller that lifted New York to a 1-0 win over Cleveland in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
Bird then slumped to a .154 average with four RBIs during spring training in 2018 and had surgery March 27 to remove a broken bone spur from the outside of the ankle. Bird returned May 26 and hit .199 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs, losing the first-base job to Luke Voit.
Eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2019, he had a $1.2 million salary. Bird went on the injured list with a left plantar fascia tear April 16, three days after what turned out to be his final game. He hit .171 in 10 games with one RBI, an Opening Day home run off Baltimore's Paul Fry.
Cortes, who turns 25 on Dec. 10, was 5-1 with a 5.67 ERA in 32 relief appearances and one start this year after making four relief appearances in his first big league season with the Orioles in 2018.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.