One thing is for sure; the New York Yankees cannot commit to Aaron Hicks as an everyday starter once again next season. Nonetheless, it seems management is gearing up to give him another shot, having continuously instilled confidence in the veteran outfielder, who put together a dismal 2022 performance.
At 33 years old, hicks hit .216 with a .330 OBP, eight homers, and 40 RBIs last season. He recorded a 24.1% strikeout rate, 13.7% walk rate, and 90 wRC+. If it wasn’t for his walk percentage, Hicks would be virtually useless, especially having struggled defensively last season.
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Nonetheless, manager Aaron Boone is excited about the impending position battle between Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera, who should win the job without hesitation given his performance last year and youth.
“At the very least, we’re going to go into spring training with a lot of competition for significant playing time, and I think that’s a good thing and hopefully that’s something that brings the best out of some people,” Boone said during an interview on MLB Network Radio Sunday.
The Yankees have been active in trade discussions but may take a back seat:
The Yankees have been connected to a myriad of trade opportunities, notably for Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the asking price is too significant. The Yankees were also intrigued by Daulton Varsho, who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays from the Arizona Diamondbacks, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
It seems as if Hicks and Cabrera will battle it out for the starting job, despite the fact that Cashman has brought in a few spring training invites to compete.
Notably, Rafael Ortega and Willie Calhoun will have an opportunity to fight for an active roster spot, but they shouldn’t be favorites by any means. Although, there’s a good argument that Rafael Ortega is better than Aaron Hicks at this point in time, coming off a season with the Chicago Cubs where he hit .241 with a .331 OBP, seven homers, and 35 RBIs across 118 games. His 96 wRC+ is six points higher than Hicks from last season but only came out at a 0.7 WAR compared to Aaron’s 1.5.
Boone didn’t rule out the idea of a potential trade as spring training gets closer, but it will have to be a reasonable package. It doesn’t seem as though Cashman is interested in selling the farm for Reynolds, which makes a deal for Max Kepler or even Austin Meadows more likely.
“Look, you’re never a completed product, and maybe something happens over the next few weeks leading into spring training. Maybe something happens going into spring training and into the trade deadline when you get a better idea of what exactly you need with your roster.
Again, Cabrera seems like the best option, given he recorded nine defensive runs saved above average last season in the outfield and hit .247 with a .312 OBP. He recorded a 111 wRC+. His Steamer projections have him hitting 14 homers across 89 games next season, hitting .236 with a .300 OBP. If he can improve his walk rate slightly and reduce his strikeout numbers, getting on base at a more efficient clip would essentially cement him as the team’s everyday outfielder.
While his slugging metrics aren’t the best, he can take advantage of the short right porch in Yankee Stadium, given his switch-hitting capabilities.