The New York Yankees have a significant problem brewing in centerfield, and his name is Aaron Hicks. Hicks signed a seven-year, $70 million extension with the Yankees back in 2019, which expires in 2025. Management will have a 2026 club option to decide on, but at this point in time, there’s no question it will be declined.
The Yankees have to inject more talent into centerfield, whether that means elevating Estevan Florial or targeting the trade market to supplement.
Hicks is hitting .196 this season, but in the month of May, he hosts a .083 batting average with just four hits over 48 at-bats. In other words, Hicks has been virtually useless offensively.
Manager Aaron Boone is known for sticking with players until they overcome their deficiencies, but Hicks hasn’t performed well in years after suffering a myriad of injuries. His hard-hit percentage has dropped to 29.2%, and his barrel percentage sits at 1.4%, the worst in his career. Altogether, he seems like a shell of his former self, so the Yankees might have to make a move the deadline to find a replacement.
One potential target could be Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals, who is on a one-year, $8.5 million deal.
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NYY and KCR mock trade:
Yankees receive: OF Andrew Benintendi
The Bombers would be getting Benintendi on a rental for the rest of the season, but he’s started off 2022 performing well. He’s hitting .306 with two homers, 16 RBIs, and just a 14% strikeout rate.
The former Boston Red Sox star is getting on base 36.7% of the time, presenting solid value. Benintendi has hit double-digit homers four times in his career, so he has a bit of untapped power the Yankees could look to extract for the rest of the season.
In fact, Benintendi has a hard-hit percentage of 37.4% and a 6.1% barrel rate. His 89.5 exit velocity is better than Hicks’s 87.6 EV. One thing is for sure, Benintendi gets on base, and he has decent base-running skills. He stole eight bases last season but has yet to steal one in 2022.
Even better, he’s a left-handed hitter, meaning he can take advantage of the short right porch in Yankee Stadium. Benintendi often hits the ball to right-center via his spray chart, curating plenty of singles. If you look at his advanced metrics, his numbers don’t match up with what the Yankees normally desire. However, the 27-year-old rarely strikes out and has room for improvement with his power. Given his small strike zone at 5’9”, he could even take a few more pitches to increase his walk rate.
Defensively, Benintendi is a predominant left fielder, so he would take over in that spot, shifting Aaron Judge to center and Joey Gallo to right field.
Royals receive: Minor league RHP Beck Way
Since Benintendi is on a one-year contract and the Royals are one of the worst teams in baseball, it wouldn’t take much for the Yankees to make this deal.
In exchange, the Yankees give up Beck Way, a 6’4″, 200-pound starting pitcher. Way hosts a 6.86 ERA over 21 innings pitched but has plenty of potential, featuring a four-seam and two-seam fastball that generate sink. Currently, he’s sitting around 93–96 mph with his fastball, topping out at 99 last year. With that type of velocity, there’s a lot of potential left to find with Way. He presents an intriguing prospect acquisition for Kansas City.