Yankees make outfield shift, preparing to decrease Aaron Hicks’s workload

Alexander Wilson
New York Yankees, Estevan Florial
Jul 20, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Estevan Florial (90) hits a home run during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have scored one run in their last three games and four runs in their last four games, showcasing one of the worst offensive streaks of any team in baseball this season. Manager Aaron Boone is desperately trying to find a way out of the abyss. Despite narrowly holding onto an AL East lead, the Bombers need support.

Reports indicated that the Yankees are pulling up Triple-A prospect Oswaldo Cabrera to help provide an offensive jolt, but the moves don’t end there. The Yankees are also expected to bring up Estevan Florial, who’s been fantastic this season with Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Florial has made four appearances with the top team this year, failing to record a hit. With Scranton, though, he’s hitting .284 with a 36.5% on-base rate, 11% walk rate, 14 homers, and 37 RBIs with 32 stolen bases. As long as Florial can get on base, he’s lethal with his speed and athleticism. However, he does feature a 30.8% strikeout rate, a number that is only expected to rise at the major league level.

The Yankees needed to make an outfield change:

Pulling up Florial is an obvious attempt to decrease the workload of Aaron Hicks, who has been abysmal the past few weeks. The 32-year-old outfielder has had a polarizing 2022 season, hitting .218 with a 34% on-base rate, six homers, and 32 RBIs over 102 games. He features a 21.8% strikeout rate and 14.7% walk rate.

Looking at his August stats, though, he’s hitting .119 with a 21% on-base rate, five hits, and one RBI over 42 at-bats. In other words, he seems to have forgotten how to play baseball, especially after wandering around aimlessly in centerfield during Monday’s game. He has been a complete liability to the team’s progress after the All-Star break, so Boone had no choice but to make a change.

Florial will offer fresh blood in the outfield and a young bat to try and spark the Yankees’ offense. Historically, he hasn’t had much success at the MLB level but given his stats this year with Scranton and consistency, it’s worth a shot to try and turn things around.

The young outfielder hasn’t started off August as hot, hitting .237 with a 34% on base rate, but was electric in July, hitting .289 with a 36% on base rate, seven homers, and 11 RBIs. There’s no doubt he has plenty of value if he can begin hitting and making an impact, but Florial has proven to be streaky in the past as well. At the very least, he brings new energy to centerfield, a position that desperately needs a bit of support with Hicks struggling.