Yankees’ Aaron Boone responds to Aaron Hicks’ controversial comments

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Mar 28, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone looks on during the fifth inning of the Spring Training game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees demolished the Philadelphia Phillies 8–1 on Monday evening, enjoying a few stellar performances courtesy of Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Nestor Cortés, and even newly acquired outfielder Franchy Cordero contributed two RBIs.

However, controversial outfielder Aaron Hicks continues to struggle, getting on base once over three at-bats but failing to contribute much despite most Yankees getting on the board in some way. There was a flurry of critical comments regarding Hicks and his request for more playing time, despite failing to earn it following two abysmal professional seasons.

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“I mean, yeah,” he said. “I just want to play. I don’t want to come off the bench and face closers all day. I want to play the field, I want to play everyday, and it’s just what I want to do. I want to start. I really don’t know what else to say.”

Per Brendan Kuty of The Athletic.

The Yankees may want to consider moving Aaron Hicks at this point:

At 33 years old, Hicks hit .216 with a .330 OBP, including eight homers and 40 RBIs last year across 130 games. For a player making $10 million per season and in the middle of a seven-year, $70 million contract, he hasn’t provided above-average play since 2019, still only hosting a 103 wRC+. 2018 was the last time he really put together a successful season, not including the Covid abbreviated campaign.

There’s a reason that manager Aaron Boone started Oswaldo Cabrera in left field over Hicks on opening day and hasn’t looked back. The team gave Cabrera a day off on Monday but expect him to be right back in the lineup Tuesday, with Hicks transitioning back to the bench, where he is utilized as a situational player.

Boone didn’t rule out changing roles, but given how much slack he gave Hicks in the past, notably two awful seasons, it is only fair to give Cabrera an extremely long leash as he continues to develop his skill set and refine his eye in the batter’s box.

“The role can evolve and change,” Boone said. “The biggest thing is I want him to be ready for every opportunity.”

Ultimately, the veteran outfielder has lost his starting job, and the only way he will realistically gain it back is if injuries plague the outfield. Aaron Judge has his spot locked up, Stanton is getting a few reps every other day, Cabrera is starting, and even Isiah Kiner-Falefa might be a preference, given his contact-hitting qualities.

The moment Harrison Bader returns to his regular centerfield role, Hicks will have a hard time finding opportunities, making him a prime trade candidate. The question is, what team is willing to bargain on Hicks as a starting outfielder, and what would they be willing to give up in return?

Realistically, a salary dump may be the only thing the Yankees can do since Hicks has already noted Joey Gallo’s success with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being traded last year. Gallo has had a solid start to the 2023 season, already mashing three homers. It seems as if the veteran is suggesting he would like to move on, so the Yankees could simply be waiting for Bader to make a return before executing a trade.