Given their extreme contract allocations, the New York Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman would preferably move on from Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks. Despite Cashman standing firm behind his players, the writing is on the wall for both, with Donaldson set to earn $21 million in 2023 and Hicks on the books for $10.5 million with three years remaining on his contract.
In fact, the 33-year-old outfielder had a polarizing 2022 campaign, marked mostly by inefficient play. Over 130 games, Hicks hit .216 with a 33% on-base rate, 24.1% strikeout rate, and 13.9% walk rate. He once again showed his usual patience at the plate, but hitting just eight homers with 40 RBIs is simply unacceptable. The last time Hicks hit double-digit homers was back in 2019, launching just 12. In fact, his exit velocity dropped significantly to 87.9 mph, down from nearly 90 mph back in 2019.
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The Yankees are liking sending Aaron Hicks to the bench one way or another:
At this point in time, Hicks is likely headed to the bench, given the elevation of Oswaldo Cabrera. In addition, Cashman acquired Harrison Bader from the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline, filling the centerfield spot and all but moving Aaron into a reserve role. Even if the Yankees lose Aaron Judge to free agency, I would expect the Bombers to fill the position instead of giving Hicks another opportunity at his price tag. The better move would be to save a bit of money and reallocate it to Andrew Benintendi or even take a shot at Masataka Yoshida.
The veteran currently has three years remaining on his deal with a club option in 2026, when he’ll be 36 years old. As stated above, he will count $10.5 million this upcoming season, $9.5 million in 2024, and another $9.5 million and 2025. For a reserve, the team is better off trying to offload his deal and scooping up a reserve piece at a much cheaper price point.
Ideally, Cashman could find a way to offload the entire salary, which is unlikely given his loss and value. The team may have to package him with a prospect just to get him off the books or agree to pay a portion of his salary for the remaining three years, at least saving a bit of cash in the process. It will be a difficult situation to deal with for management this off-season, but it is one that requires attention.