Yankees looking to move struggling outfielder before Spring Training

aaron hicks, new york yankees
Jul 8, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks (31) reacts after scoring against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are extremely close to the third luxury tax threshold at $293 million. Managing partner Hal Steinbrenner desperately wants to stay below that number, and with the team currently projected to have $290 million in active total payroll, we should expect a few trades to offload bloated contracts in the near future.

One deal that is holding the Yankees back is that of Aaron Hicks, who’s set to earn $10.5 million for the 2023 season, despite coming off another down year. He has $30.5 million left on his contract with a $12.5 million club option for the 2026 season, but the team has been looking to unpack his qualities over the last few months, but given his lack of production, not many teams are interested.

They have talked to teams about trading Hicks. The 33-year-old hasn’t been healthy and productive for a full season since 2018 and still has three years and just over $30 million remaining on his contract. 

Per Dan Martin of the New York Post.

The Yankees need to find a way to clear some of Aaron Hicks’s salary off the books:

At 33 years old, hicks hit .216 with a .330 OBP, eight homers, and 40 RBIs this past season. He recorded a 90 wRC+, making it two consecutive seasons without breaking 100. He was a 1.5 WAR player but projects to get even worse next season, according to his Steamer projections. They have him hitting .223 with a .329 OBP, nine homers, and 36 RBIs with a 102 wRC+. However, Steamer has them at a 1.1 WAR, meaning he won’t impact the game significantly as an everyday starter. Having played 130 games this past season, the first time he broke 60 games since 2018, convincing another team to take on his $10.5 million salary is a tall task.

Ultimately, Hicks might be included in a bigger deal that either involves prospects or Cashman agreeing to take on a portion of his salary. The last time he had a serviceable campaign was almost five years ago, when he hit .248 with a .366 OBP, including a career-high 27 homers. That version of Hicks is long gone, especially after breaking his wrist and his power taking a turn for the worst. He posted a 33.1% hard-hit rate, his lowest since 2017, including a 5.8% barrel rate, is lowest since 2016.

Starting Hicks in left field is out of the question, especially with the elevation of Oswaldo Cabrera. At the very most, the veteran outfielder projects to be a reserve option, but at such a lofty price tag, his value is better situated off the roster and saving a bit of cash in the process, in which Cashman might be able to reallocate toward another bullpen arm or trading for a fresh left-fielder.