The Blue Jays have signed first baseman Greg Bird to a minor league contract, tweets Keegan Matheson of MLB.com. It’s the second minor league pact of the morning for the Jays, who also inked right-hander Joe Biagini not long ago. Bird wasn’t on a 40-man roster last year and became a minor league free agent at season’s end, thus allowing him to sign a minor league contract even during the MLB lockout.
Now 29 years old, Bird at one point looked like a potential long-term option for the division-rival Yankees at first base. He burst onto the scene in 2015 with a .261/.343/.529 slash for the Yanks, swatting 11 homers and nine doubles in just 178 plate appearances. As a former fifth-round pick who’d posted consistently excellent offensive numbers throughout his minor league contract, Bird looked quite promising.
Injuries, however, completely derailed his time with the Yankees. A torn labrum in his shoulder required surgery that cost him the entire 2016 season. He again captured the intrigue of Yankees fans when he ripped eight home runs in during 2017 Spring Training, but Bird fouled a ball off his ankle at the end of camp and quite literally limped through the first month of the season before hitting the injured list and undergoing surgery. That procedure removed the “os trigonum” bone from his ailing ankle. He returned in late August and again hit well down the stretch (.253/.316/.579, eight homers in 98 plate appearances).
Bird and the Yankees hoped the injuries could be put behind him for the 2018 season, but by the end of Spring Training that year, it became clear that the ankle was still an issue. He underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from that same surgically repaired ankle — a third surgery in three years — and spent the first six weeks of the year on the injured list. When healthy, Bird didn’t resemble his once-productive form, posting just a .199/.286/.386 batting line in 311 plate appearances. His 2019 campaign didn’t go any better, as he developed plantar fasciitis in his other foot and ultimately missing the majority of the season. The Yankees cut him loose following that 2019 campaign.
Bird has since signed with the Rangers and Rockies organizations, most recently spending the 2021 season with Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate, where he posted a .267/.362/.532 batting line with 27 home runs in 461 plate appearances. That was “only” about 17 percent better than league average, after accounting for the hitter-friendly setting (117 wRC+), but it was encouraging to see Bird produce well and remain healthy enough to appear in 112 games.
The Jays are obviously set with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at first base, and their deep outfield mix means they don’t necessarily have a need for a regular designated hitter. They’ve also been at least loosely connected to Freddie Freeman, and while that’s a long-shot fit, it’d only further reduce Bird’s chances of breaking through to the big league roster. That said, Bird is a perfectly sensible player to stash in Triple-A in the event of an injury, and if he hits well enough in Buffalo, the Jays can perhaps find a way to work his left-handed bat onto the roster in a part-time role.
Bird had flashes of brilliance as a Yankee. Shame he couldn’t stay healthy. Watch him come back to haunt them in a Blue Jay uniform
@BaseballClassic1985- Wishing that doesn’t make it happen. But best of luck with all of that.
I really enjoy comments from teenagers on this site
@BaseballClassic1985- Bird ain’t haunting any team out there. So stop being delusional. Or maybe, he can haunt you in your fantasy-world?
That’s a weird kink.
yes, he will fly north for the summer.
^^ha thank you for that
Good no-risk signing. If he is healthy, he’s a capable contributor on a big league roster.
Is he? He hasn’t proven that at all.
Bird managed to hit .200 once, seven years ago. Vladdy better report in good shape if he wants to keep his job.
I’ve been a big Greg Bird fan since watching him in Trenton in 2014-2015. Injury after injury murdered what was assumed to become a solid career. I’ve been following him since the Yanks let him go & I wish him nothing but success.
Another future hall of famer.
@Judge Judy- Glad your not the true Judge.
I must have missed the HOF part. The only thing the article didn’t take into account was injuries derailing a promising career. Your narrative needs work.
@Judge Judy- Hall Of Famers can hit everything, back then he could hit the fastball. He definitely did look like a star. I remember the Nationals wanted Bird, Sanchez and Florial for Harper at that time and the Yankees said no. No one out there could have predicted Bird and Sanchez would have this bad.
Kevin Maas didn’t get this many chances.
@uvmfiji- the fastball was Kevin Maas least problem. He couldn’t hit the slow stuff and the sinkers. They found that out pretty quickly. He was done.
His swing always reminded me of John Olerud. Because of this I always kind of hoped the Mets would take a flier on him when he left the Yankees, though clearly the Mets have no need for another first baseman. I still have some faith he can find something. Maybe some Blue Jays people see the similarities too.
Could be a bench piece. The only problem would be that Charlie would play him everyday.
Besides all the injuries, Bird’s biggest problem has been a slow bat. He can’t hit fastballs.
Not being able to hit fastballs is a bit of a problem in the big leagues.
Pedro Cerrano couldn’t hit the curve. Now he does Allstate commercials.
Two of Bird’s biggest hits as a Yankee were HRs in the 2017 ALDS and 2017 ALCS, both of which were struck against fastballs of 97+ mph. Derp
2 big hits don’t mean he can consistently hit the fastball. His overall numbers against fastballs are terrible.
Oh, but some guy on this site foolish enough to pay to be an “insider” saying he can’t hit a fastball is MLB gospel? Lol
Don’t take my word for it. A quick trip to Fangraphs will tell you all you need to know.
@LarsAnderson-And Pedro Cerrano now does those commercials to a tee.
With the Universal DH on the way, feels like they wrong team and league.
Same thing I thought. Kinda surprised he didn’t land in the NL or with a non contending AL team as a part time DH/ 1b.
Decent player when healthy. Health is the key. Quality depth signing.
Bird was one guy as a Yankee fan I absolutely loved rooting for. It’s a shame he couldn’t get past injuries. He had tons of potential. I’ll never forget his clutch home run in the post season in 2017.
Unlike most Yankee fans I actually give players a chance such as Ellsbury, Sanchez, Bird, etc.
Only player I don’t think will ever have a great season again is Torres. Sanchez would do better on a team like the Marlins. Ellsbury was a 5 tool player but got plagued by injuries. I saw him hit his last career triple against the Red Sox I believe it was. Great player, one of my favorites
“Have I heard what?”
“Because the bird bird bird, bird is the word…!”
He’ll pop 30.
Pete Walker will fix him
He was always just a pitching coach away from stardom.
Struck out too many times in big situations….he stunk when he was good
I like it. I don’t really expect anything out of him partially because he’s made of glass, but he’s a lefty bat and could still show some promise. Maybe the Jays win the lottery again and he’s a late bloomer who puts it together just like Encarnacion and Bautista did in their age 29 seasons (albeit they each had far more of a track record) lol.
Brad Hand and Matt Bush to follow.