Yankees officially bench Aaron Hicks in favor of super-utility man

yankees, oswaldo cabrera
Mar 13, 2023; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Oswaldo Cabrera (95) throws to first for an out against the Minnesota Twins in the third inning during spring training at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

There may be a changing of the guard underway in the outfield after Yankees manager Aaron Boone elected to bench Aaron Hicks in favor of Oswaldo Cabrera on Opening Day.

Cabrera had a challenging first game, enjoying four at-bats and striking out all four times, despite the umpire missing a few obvious balls.

It wasn’t the start Cabrera hoped for, but the Yankees still managed an easy 5–0 victory over the San Francisco Giants, courtesy of Gerrit Cole’s 11 strikeouts and a pair of homers from Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres.

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The Yankees need to commit to Oswaldo Cabrera and not waiver:

One bad performance shouldn’t justify Oswaldo moving to the bench in favor of Hicks since Boone stuck with the veteran outfielder for years despite poor performance.

Nonetheless, based on Cabrera’s spring, where he hit .333 with a .390 OBP, including four homers and 14 RBIs across 54 ABs, Boone has finally come to the conclusion that his young super utilityman has earned a starting job.

“I just felt like Oswaldo is the guy who’s earned that right to be in there,” Boone said about Oswaldo, who dominated during spring training. “Obviously, what he was able to do for us last year. He came in and had a really good spring, as did Aaron.” 

Last year over 44 regular season games, Cabrera hit .247 with a .312 OBP, six homers, and 19 RBIs. Hicks, on the other hand, hit .216 with a .330 OBP, eight homers, and 40 RBIs across 130 games. Cabrera’s numbers were on pace to be far better, and the Yankees need to continue giving him reps and experience to compound his success in the batter’s box. Baseball is a game of consistency, and that needs to be prioritized.

We already know that Oswaldo is an energizer bunny on the team and can play multiple defensive positions. He posted 13 defensive runs saved last year, with nine coming in the outfield. He spent spring moving to different spots where he needed more opportunity, notably third base and left field. If any injuries arise and the Yankees need to supplement, they can quickly move Cabrera around and inject Hicks back into the lineup, serving as an expensive depth piece.

It is great to see that Boone is committing to the team’s youth agenda and not holding any players back. There’s an objective truth that Cabrera has far more potential at this point in his career compared to Aaron, who is coming off two dismal seasons, and while he did have a solid offensive spring, the Yankees need to side with potential.